Social Media for Franchises: Keep it Hyper-Local and Brand Consistent

By Sandy D’Elosua, national director of marketing & communications, Front Burner Brands | April 08, 2013

More and more, consumers are engaging with brands on a local level and gaining enthusiasm for developing local connections with businesses they frequent. Adopting localized social media strategies makes sense for many hospitality companies; but for multi-unit brands, any effort to decentralize your social media strategy should be tempered by company-wide compliance standards.

When implementing a local social media engagement strategy, emphasizing consistency and compliance is vital for a multi-unit brand. Franchisees should be empowered to manage local accounts in a way that still provides consistency to the guest from one location to the next.
If you choose to develop a decentralized, local strategy for your brand, consider the following five tips for maintaining brand consistency across local social media accounts:

1. Establish a social media policy.
Create an official policy that all franchisees, managers and team members must follow when participating in any social medium on behalf of the brand. Include rules of engagement and guidelines for social media administrators that outline how they should communicate with your customers on social media. Make sure to implement necessary disciplinary measures to ensure policies are followed.

2. Develop compliance standards to create a consistent look and feel.
To create a streamlined social media process across the brand, define brand standards for image compliance, page names, location specificity, company descriptions, application usage and more. When moving from one location’s social media page to the next, the appearance of the page shouldn’t vary greatly though the individual location should be clearly indicated. Pages should contain only approved brand images, features and applications as well as consistent page names and standard brand descriptions.

3. Educate local social media managers. Not every team member is qualified to generate social media content and speak on behalf of your brand in this space. One wrong step can cause a social media crisis for your brand as news can spread quickly in this environment. To ensure franchisees, general managers or other approved team members are equipped to manage social media accounts, the corporate office should provide a brand-specific social media manual and training programs.

4. Monitor and guide local activity. If allowing individual locations to manage social media accounts, the corporate office must invest in resources to consistently monitor and lead local activity. The corporate team must have administrative rights to every account and be able to spot-check individual pages regularly, consulting with local social media administrators on brand voice, page content and engagement strategies.

5. Protect trademarks and copyrights and avoid illegal promotions.
It’s important to educate your local social media managers about abiding by legal rules on social media to avoid any potential actions that could result in legal consequences for your brand. Make sure that local content does not violate the trademarks or copyrights of others. Plagiarism must be avoided; proper permissions or attribution is necessary. Copyright and fair use laws should be respected and adhered to accordingly on social media. Additionally, local business owners should always consult legal counsel before implementing a contest, sweepstakes or promotion. While promotions are a great way to engage fans, it’s vital to make sure the campaign is lawful and follows any promotional guidelines set for the social media site where it will be executed. For example, Facebook provides guidelines for promotions and outlines them at http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php.



What was your first job?
Administrative assistant for a Century 21 office. At the same time, I had a job at PBS in Washington, D.C., licking envelopes and distributing mail.

Who inspires you?  
Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger (from only the best movie of all time) for his persistence and perseverance in the ’70s.

What are your hobbies?
I love photography in my spare time and playing with my Shar-pei pup, Rudy.

What technologies excite you?
I live and die by my cell phone, so the latest generations excite me.  I’m an Android user.  

Words of Wisdom:   
Success will never just be handed to you, and failure will happen often if you are on the right path.  I live by this quote from Colin Powell, “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

What is one other job that you would like to try?
Professional photographer

What three people would you invite to lunch?  
Wilson (the volleyball from “Castaway”), Jane Austen and Will Ferrell

What is your favorite book?  
Pride and Prejudice

Sandy D’Elosua is the national director of marketing and communications for Front Burner Brands, a Tampa-based restaurant management company affiliated with The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., Burger 21 and GrillSmith. For more information, visit www.frontburnerbrands.com.

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