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Franchise Marketing Guide: Social Media Best Practices for Franchisors and Franchisees

According to the International Franchise Association, there are approximately 806,270 franchises in the United States, employing 8.7 million people. It’s a huge part of the US economy, raking in over $800 billion per year.

With franchise organizations making up such a large portion of the economy, it means a ton of businesses need to cut through the noise and get in front of the right customers. That’s why franchise marketing–with social media marketing at the center–is a revenue channel that can’t be overlooked, especially when all parties involved face a unique set of challenges.

For example, franchise owners must protect their brand reputation while franchises need to appeal to the interests of local customers. But how can businesses balance the needs of both the franchisor and franchisees?

To answer that question, we created a guide to teach you everything you need to know about your franchise marketing, from social to email to employee advocacy. Jump to the sections you need the most help with, or dive into the entire guide to turn your franchise organization into a well-oiled marketing machine.

What is a franchise?

A franchise is a business arrangement that enables approved parties to operate under an established name, logo, concept and/or trademark. The owner of the corporation or umbrella business is known as the franchisor and the operator of an individual branch or location is known as the franchisee. Depending on the agreement, the franchisee may pay a percentage of their profits or revenue, to the franchisor in exchange for ongoing support and use of the brand.

To buy into the business, the franchisee will pay fees (e.g. royalties) and maintain guidelines created by the franchisor. These rules can include requirements for branding, marketing and operating procedures. There is usually a one-time fee to the corporate owner to cover onboarding costs and getting the new business set up. For example, McDonald’s is a franchise corporation, and each McDonald’s location is owned by individuals who bought the franchise license. McDonald’s corporate helps the new franchise owners choose a business location, order supplies and market the new location.

What is franchise marketing?

Franchise marketing is the promotional efforts of both the overall franchise branch and individual franchise locations. While franchisors must create a profitable brand and business model that can be easily replicated, franchisees must help maintain brand reputation and bring in new business in order to retain its value.

To build and maintain your franchise organization’s brand reputation, start with social.

The 2023 State of Social Media report shows 96% of business leaders agree that companies must continue to invest in social media marketing to be successful. But how can franchisors and franchisees work together to create a single cohesive social marketing strategy? Let’s dive in.

Use franchise social media marketing to find, serve and satisfy customers

Social media is a critical channel for businesses. The Sprout Social Index™ shows the main reason consumers follow brands on social media is to stay informed about new products or services.

A data visualization from the Sprout Social Index, showing that the primary reason consumers follow a brand on social is to stay informed about new products or services (68%). Learning about new products/services is followed by having access to exclusive deals (46%), entertaining content (46%), community engagement (28%) and alignment with brand values or mission (21%).

As you increase the amount of locations operating in your organization, so too do you increase your reach on social. By properly leveraging social media you can turn individual locations into well oiled marketing machines that span across the entire marketing funnel.

“From content planning and promotion, to brand health and full-funnel analytics, to customer care and consumer and product insights—I see social as embedded across the organization, just as it’s become embedded across our lives,” – Jamie Gilpin, former CMO, Sprout Social

How should franchisors and franchisees share social marketing?

Your organization needs a governing body, the franchisor, to ensure whoever interacts on social media under the brand umbrella posts appropriate content and engages with your audience when necessary.

But franchisors can’t (and shouldn’t) approach social alone for two main reasons: inbound message volume and outbound message relevance.

1. Inbound Message Volume

Due to the amount of inbound volume most brands see, it doesn’t make sense for the franchisor to handle all of the social media messages. And since many of the messages a brand gets concern a specific local franchise or region, it would take much longer for a social marketer with no knowledge of a certain location or promotion to answer.

2. Outbound Message Relevance by Location

It can be difficult for corporate social teams to create content with the same level of relevance as those in the franchises. Corporate social teams may not have as much knowledge of the location, the clientele or promotions going on as the social team for the local branch.

Index data shows having access to exclusive deals and promotions is one of the top reasons consumers follow brands on social media. Understanding how to appeal to a local audience is key to prompting more purchases.

Another thing to consider when deciding the workflow between franchisor and franchisees is whether or not to create separate social profiles for individual locations or regions.

When it comes to Facebook, your separate locations will almost always have their own page since Facebook has tools for each location to share reviews, directions, maps and more. Facebook makes it easier to find and manage your individual locations with store location features in Meta Ads Manager.

Other channels like X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, Threads and LinkedIn require more thought.

The key questions to consider are:

  • Does my franchisee or region have enough interest to support a separate profile?
  • Do your operators have the capacity to run those accounts?
  • Does your franchisee or region have the budget to create a meaningful presence?

Remember, just because a specific location doesn’t have their own presence doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to handling social for your main properties.

Social media marketing tips for franchisors

The key for franchisors is to strike the right balance between protecting their brands and empowering franchisees to engage with customers and share relevant content.

Though it may make sense to give individual franchisees permission to build their own social presence, giving too much agency opens up the business to higher risk of a brand crisis. For example, a poor social media experience or missed customer complaints can snowball and impact the entire brand.

To protect your brand, give your franchisees approved marketing materials and social media guidance–from what to post to SLAs for responding to DMs when a customer has an issue. Here’s how.

1. Create detailed social media policies

A detailed social media policy will help franchisors avoid issues before they’re created. Creating a social media policy can help:

  • Set expectations for behavior online
  • Guide franchisees on social media strategy
  • Protect the franchisor from legal issues given a social media crisis.

2. Create customizable templates and a style guide

One of the biggest issues we see at Sprout is that individual locations want to share content relevant to their brand, but the brands don’t necessarily want to give franchisees full permission to share whatever they like.

If the franchisor creates a social media style guide to follow, paired with templates that can be customized by franchisees, social posts can be pre-approved and more relevant by location. One way to do this is with a shared media asset library. Asset libraries (like what’s available in Sprout’s social management platform) allow franchisors to create a digital repository of pre-approved content that can be shared to the franchisees.

Franchisees can either directly share those pieces of content or use image editors to make small tweaks that resonate with their specific audience.

The Asset Library in Sprout Social, where you can provide visual and written assets that are ready-to-use for your team.

3. Use approval-based message workflows

To help with quality assurance and brand protection, use social media tools that require final approval before sending a message to your social networks.

4. Maintain visibility

As a franchisor, it’s important to keep tabs on the content being published across your franchisees’ social channels. Create a shared content calendar to display content published by each profile under your franchise umbrella. This allows the marketing team to monitor the content being published, spot impressive work, and identify opportunities for improvement.

If you use Sprout, you can view scheduled and pushed content across every major network so everyone can stay on the same page.

A preview of the publishing calendar in Sprout Social that demonstrates a week view of all outgoing posts across several social media networks.

Social media marketing tips for franchisees

One of the benefits of owning a franchise is having the ability to market under an established brand. However, some franchisors keep a majority of their marketing budget at the corporate level as they may not fully trust the franchisees to know how to market their location.

It can be a fair point as not all franchise investors have a significant marketing background. Keep these tips in mind once you get access to a budget to start marketing on social:

1. Maintain your presence

If you’re able to create your own social profiles, update them with relevant content. A local franchise social media page with posts from years ago can be a major red flag for potential customers.

2. Post content that resonates

Make sure you create content that your audience engages with. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with offering promotions, brand-building lifestyle content, customer stories and company news to build affinity with your audiences.

Social media KPIs for franchise organizations

Before you dive into creating a social media presence, it’s important to decide how to measure success by defining key performance indicators (KPIs). Setting KPIs determines how well your marketing efforts work.

Here are some KPIs to get you started:

  • Response rate: The rate that brands respond to messages or comments they receive on a daily basis. Not every single comment or message will need a response, and the amount you need to respond depends on the needs of your customers. Your response rate can further be broken down by the day of the week or hour of the day to see when you’re most and least responsive.
  • Average reply time: The average amount of time it took for you to reply to messages within the specified date range.
  • Engagement: The total number of times a user interacted with a post. Engagement interactions can include likes, comments, replies and shares.
  • Follower count: The total number of followers on the last day of the reporting period.
  • Organic impressions: The number of times a user saw your post in their timeline or search results. This does not include paid social media.

Franchise social media marketing challenges (plus solutions)

Franchises are intricate structures involving hundreds or thousands of chains across the United States or globally. And with multiple platforms and content schedules to manage, franchise marketing becomes even more complex. Let’s review some common challenges for franchisors and franchisees.

Franchisor social media challenges and solutions

The overarching problem for franchisors is balancing the appropriate amount of control, or more specifically, determining what to control vs. what not to. Too little control could cause a business to lose their brand authority; too much oversight and you risk not attracting customers specific to your different locations and branches.

1. Establishing social media guidelines, voice and goals

The challenge: Maintaining a consistent brand voice and presence across all franchise locations is difficult, and without the right approach, can risk brand reputation.

The solutions: If you want to appeal to local audiences without steering too far from your brand, you’ll need to consider your brand voice and how it relates to your social media guidelines. Your brand voice won’t come overnight—it’ll evolve as your company grows. A great starting point (if you don’t have an established brand already) is to put together a mission statement.

Next, you’ll decide how you want to “sound” on social. Will your company use emojis and appeal to younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z? Or will you opt for a more professional tone? You may even consider humor or sarcasm, like the Wendy’s franchise:

A post from Wendy's on X (formerly known as Twitter). The post shows a Frosty® in a diagram illustrating the cycle of getting a free peppermint Frosty®. A customer responds to the post asking why the restaurant chain isn't in Australia yet and the brand accounts responds with the shrug emoji.

After you define your brand voice on social, you can focus on setting goals to identify what you want to accomplish. Here are a few questions you can answer to get a head start:

  • What segments and personas are you targeting? Marketing to the right target audience is crucial to your revenue potential. People across demographics and locations buy differently and interact with your brand differently. It’s mission critical to define your audiences in detail with social media personas. That way you can determine how to reach the right people with social media content that resonates.
  • What types of content will you share? Will you share video, photos or blog posts? Will you focus on product images, inspirational lifestyle content or other visuals like animation? Behind-the-scenes content to show off your company culture? Make a list of all the types of content you plan to share.
  • How often will you and your franchisees publish each type of content? Consistency is important. Establish how often to share each type of content when developing your social media content strategy. For example, consider how many times per day you’d like your franchises to post, and your engagement goals per post.
  • Who will manage social media for your team? This varies depending on the size of your business. In some cases, each branch may have a corporate manager and someone responsible for social. For franchisors with fewer branches, there may be one social media manager at headquarters that handles corporate brand accounts and franchisee accounts.
  • How will you set up the different channels? Will your franchisor social media username include the brand name while the franchise branches include the brand name and location? Consider what makes sense for your business and your audience’s expectations.
  • How will you measure results and optimize your efforts? Track your progress and make changes that increase engagement.
  • Do you need to invest in a social media management tool? A social media management software like Sprout can help you simplify your franchise marketing efforts. Instead of having to navigate multiple profiles across various social networks, social media management tool centralizes everything into one place. These platforms often offer analytics as well so you can determine how your content is performing for both corporate and branch locations.

Once you answer these questions, you can put together a solid social media plan. Then, you need to figure out how to measure its success, which brings us to the next challenge.

2. Calculating return on investment (ROI)

The challenge: Any time a business invests money into resources, they need to know the returns of those expenses.

Calculating social media ROI can feel daunting even when you have just one corporate account to track. Throw multiple franchise locations into the mix with different social accounts, and the task becomes much bigger. But it doesn’t have to be hard.

The solutions: Here are a few tips for franchisors that’ll help track social media ROI for both corporate headquarters and branches.

  1. Set tangible, reachable goals for social media. For example, you might want 1,000 new email subscribers this quarter. Or, you might want to direct 10,000 customers to your website from Instagram.
  2. Give individual social managers tactical goals. For example, instead of telling your locations’ social managers to get 1,000 new email subscribers, tell them to share your subscribe link in a certain number of posts per day.
  3. Measure your output. This one may seem obvious, but you need to monitor all of your social accounts so you can track and measure progress from each profile.

Now that we’ve covered common challenges for franchisors, let’s explore the problems franchisees encounter, plus how to solve them.

Franchisee social media challenges and solutions

Besides adhering to brand guidelines and meeting social media goals, franchisees need to stand out from the other branches—and stand out from competitors. Here’s how you can navigate some of the most common challenges for franchisees.

1. Standing out from competitors

The challenge: Breaking through the noise is one of the biggest challenges for any brand on social media.

The solutions: When it comes to grabbing attention with your posts vs. your competitors’ posts, keep an eye on the performance by using tools that give you an edge on what your users are looking for on social.

It’s important to monitor not only your hashtags, but also brand keywords that your target audience uses. For example, if you are the franchisee of a national coffee brand, you could monitor mentions for both corporate and specific locations. But monitoring your competitors across multiple social networks and accounts manually can be time-consuming. That’s why we recommend using a social media management platform like Sprout to help with competitive analysis.

Competitive analysis methods and reports like Sprout offers give you a view of performance metrics against your competitors including total engagements, share of voice, impressions, sentiment and more.

Sprout Social’s competitor analysis performance report showing various metrics including topic summary, share of voice, total engagements, impressions, unique authors and sentiment scores.

2. Differentiating from other franchise locations

The challenge: How will your location differentiate from other branches? How will you differentiate from all the other locations in your franchise? This can get particularly challenging when a franchise operates in a single region, such as one with multiple locations that are all within New York City.

The solutions: To stand out amongst branches, you need to know what the folks in your neighborhood prefer by:

  • Track KPIs regularly. Monitor your social analytics to get a feel for what’s resonating with your particular following.
  • Get specific with location tags and hashtags. Use neighborhood hashtags instead of city hashtags to feature your specific branch if there are multiple branches in your city. If your franchise is nationwide and limited to one per city, stand out in your city by using it in the hashtags instead.
  • Use a tone appropriate for your customer base. For example, a franchise coffee location in Los Angeles is going to use a very different style than a Brooklyn or Miami location, whether it’s referencing local traditions, sports teams or neighborhood visuals.
  • Do market research. Use search engines and social listening to gather information on the demographics (average age, average income, etc.) of your specific location and use that to tailor your branch’s tone.

Check out this example of Burn Boot Camp in Apopka, Florida using brand imagery and voice, but tagging for their specific audience:

A Facebook post from Burn Boot Camp franchise location in Apopka, Florida. The photo features the gym's branding and local members.

3. Limited bandwidth and staff

The challenge: Smaller franchise locations don’t have the same resources as big, corporate headquarters. Franchisees may not have the time, budget or other resources to devote themselves fully to social media. Plus, when resources are strapped, teams are small, and often don’t include someone with the skillset to crush it on social media.

The solutions: To combat limited resources, consider:

Sprout Social's compose window where you can write and schedule posts within your content calendar across various social media networks.

Create a franchise social marketing strategy for email

Along with social media, email is one of the most effective channels available to today’s marketers. According to Litmus data, marketers see an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent on email marketing.

In franchise marketing, you face a unique set of challenges with email marketing. To do your job effectively, you have to address the needs of franchisees with different skill sets, yet somehow maintain control of your content and brand image. You need to empower users across locations to collaborate and use email effectively and provide a cohesive experience to every subscriber.

Thankfully, these challenges can be solved with the right strategy. Let’s break it down.

Use a control center to share email

Being able to manage the email marketing for all of your locations in a central account is an absolute must-have for franchises. For one thing, it means every franchisee’s contact info can live in a single system. Secondly, it allows you to set up sub-accounts—each with its own set of user permissions—and give users as much freedom as you would like, without ever losing your central authority. More control and more efficiency means better results across the board. You can use platforms like Marketo or Salesforce Marketing Cloud to manage your email marketing.

Share creative and content assets from corporate

Another huge need in the world of franchise email marketing? Maintaining your brand identity and creating a seamless customer experience. So be sure to find an email service provider (ESP) that allows you to share creative assets—like logos, images and templates—with all of your sub-accounts to ensure a consistent experience across the board.

Bonus points if the ESP lets you lock down certain parts of the design to give you total control over what end users can and can’t edit, making it easy for them to stay true to your brand.

Keep an eye on local and global analytics

Another nice-to-have: A homepage dashboard that enables you to see what’s happening across all sub-accounts and drill into individual sends with ease. The at-a-glance view of most recent activity and results lets you quickly identify which teams are nailing it and uncover the ones that could use a little help.

Email marketing tips for franchisors

Franchisors must maintain control over their brand identity while finding ways to empower users across locations to do their best work. How can you achieve both? Here’s our advice:

1. Set up user permissions

From initial planning to pressing send, take stock of every person involved in your email marketing. Make sure they understand their responsibilities, then build those permissions into your account to ensure everyone has the right access to the right tools.

2. Build shareable templates

To create a cohesive experience from your website to the inbox and beyond, invest in branded, mobile-friendly email templates your team can use for different needs as they arise.

3. Invest in onboarding

Remember to invest time onboarding new users to your ESP. Whether it’s training developed in-house or a service purchased through your provider, it will be well worth the investment.

Email marketing tips for franchisees

Franchisees are likely sending emails for particular locations. However, you can’t just send any email and expect to see great results. To fully take advantage of email, you need to be intentional about your strategy. Here’s how:

1. Define your goals.

Below are some questions to ask as you plan each mailing. They’ll help you identify any gaps in your current process and help you avoid the pitfalls of sending “just because.”

  • The audience: Who are you sending the campaign to?
  • The benefit: What’s in it for your subscribers?
  • The action: What action do you want subscribers to take after getting this email?
  • The results: How will you measure success?

2. Grow your list

Before your subscribers ever get an email from your brand, they have to opt into your list. So how do you convince them to take that first step?

  • Provide easy signup opportunities everywhere: Look for opportunities to build your email list wherever you interact with your target audience: your website, social channels, events and brick-and-mortar locations. It’s all fair game as long as you’re offering something valuable for joining your list and delivering on that promise.
  • Don’t ask for too much information right away: Every field you add to your signup form adds more steps for your customer. You can always ask for more over time once people are more familiar with your brand. Plus, if you’re paying close attention to your email metrics, you can discover exactly what types of content your subscribers open and click, so you can gather data that way and tailor their experience accordingly.
  • Keep your list clean: That means using legitimate list growth methods—don’t buy or rent email lists—and providing lead magnets that will entice the right type of subscribers to sign up for your emails. Remember, a healthy email list is about quality, not just quantity.

3. Welcome new subscribers

To promote long-term brand loyalty, you need to start your relationship with new subscribers off on the right foot. Welcome emails should be sent immediately when a subscriber’s interest is peaked—preferably, right after they sign up for your list.

  • Introduce your brand and tell your story: Your welcome email is your chance to build a following of brand advocates from the very start. Use this first email to control the perception of your brand and use subscriber-focused content to show people why they want to stay connected.
  • Follow up on promised content and offers: This is the highest-performing email you could ever send, so don’t miss this critical opportunity to encourage action, whether it’s following your social profiles or checking out your online store.
  • Collect more information: Any “nice to have” information (like location or birthday) that you didn’t collect upon signup can be collected in your welcome email. Ask new subscribers to set email preferences to ensure you provide the most relevant experience possible moving forward.

Use employee advocacy to spotlight franchise locations

Employee advocacy is the practice of empowering your employees, or in this case franchisors and franchisee employees, to share pre-approved content in order to increase your brand awareness on social media (and beyond).

With a formal employee advocacy program, you can expand your franchise’s reach on social media and get in front of your employees’ audience, too. In fact, 72% of engaged social media users would post about their company if content was written for them.

A general report within Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social. The report includes several metrics including total shares, earned media value and average per active user.

And according to LinkedIn’s Employee Advocacy Guide, employee posts extend your reach and have a higher click-through rate than company content. The right message, posted by a genuinely enthusiastic employee to the right audience, can be a priceless marketing message for an organization.

Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social lets employees share branded content within a few clicks while staying compliant with pre-approved copy. And you can validate the impact of employee posts with data that tells a story about your total reach, engagement and earned media value.

A general report within Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social. The report includes several metrics include total shares, earned media value and average per active user.

How does advocacy benefit a franchise organization?

For franchises, employee advocacy brings a unique set of challenges and benefits. It can be tough to create a functional framework for employee advocacy across all franchises.

However, on the flip side, franchises stand to benefit dramatically if they implement a thoughtful and strategic employee advocacy program.

1. Employee advocacy saves money

Using the owners, managers and lower-level employees through a structured advocacy program is one way to reallocate marketing expenses. This benefit has significant appeal not only for the company as a whole but for many franchisees who are trying to cut costs by scaling back their marketing efforts. For example, Edgio gained over $126,000 in earned media value by using Employee Advocacy in three months.  also drove 7x ROI in 3 months, along with earning $90,000 in earned media value.

2. Employee advocacy leverages brand knowledge

Whether they’re part-time, full-time or salaried, franchise employees are the people most familiar with your company’s products and services. They know all the nitty-gritty details of the business; that knowledge can be an immense advantage to your marketing efforts.

There’s no huge learning curve for these in-house marketers; with a little direction and motivation, they’re ready to spread the good word about your business.

Three ways to manage advocacy efforts

Three different groups of people could potentially be in charge of your employee advocacy program. The model you select will largely depend on the type of franchise you’re involved in and the level of buy-in you have from your owners.

1. A national marketing board

In this scenario, the company has a marketing board that’s in charge of employee advocacy efforts across all franchises. The word on employee advocacy comes from the top down, and the local franchisees have to implement it as mapped out by the board. This type of scenario could work well for franchisees who aren’t very motivated to take responsibility for their own marketing.

2. A co-op marketing board

In this case, representatives from the franchise owners work with the parent company to craft a marketing strategy that works nationwide. They also determine how employee advocacy efforts are handled (including creating a social media policy, brand messaging guidelines, etc.). This way, the company can still have leadership and a level of marketing control, while the owners have a voice and an interest in the process.

3. The local franchise

For some businesses, the best way to ensure full owner buy-in is to give franchisees the freedom to get creative and set up their own employee advocacy strategy. To keep this permissive model from backfiring, it’s important to offer training and help to franchisees. They need to know best practices and understand specific brand guidelines before they jump into employee advocacy, particularly on social media.

How franchise organizations can use advocacy

Experts suggest you begin your advocacy efforts in phases; it all starts with finding the most enthusiastic and engaged employees at each franchise location.

1. Find the storytellers

You can find these folks by sending out a survey with a few questions about company products, or by encouraging employees at each franchise location to share something about their favorite product on a social media network. Ask your franchise owners to approach their most dedicated, enthusiastic and verbally skilled employees about becoming advocates.

2. Make it easy for them

Your company needs to make it easy for busy employees to share content as they’re on the go. Today that means using employee advocacy software with a mobile app (or optimized for mobile browsers). Investing in an employee advocacy tool that makes sharing easy increases the likelihood of teammates using it. For instance, when using Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social, Medallia saw a 45% increase in employee adoption rate two weeks after launching the program.

A LinkedIn post from Medallia announcing the company was named the Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Customer Feedback Management, Q1 2023. Several employees react to the post.

Curate relevant company and industry news, product updates, job openings and more. Whether you’re part of a nationwide company marketing group, a co-op initiative or a franchise-level marketing effort, you’ll see better success when you supply your employee advocates with highly shareable content.

3. Maintain the momentum

Consider offering small incentives for employees who continue sharing your brand message effectively. Benefits like gift cards, parking spots, and useful branded merchandise don’t take much from your marketing budget, and they’ll be much appreciated by your employee advocates.

Advocacy-related KPIs for franchise organizations

So how do you know who deserves those little incentives and rewards? Is your advocacy program really working? Here’s how to find out.

  • Mentions and engagement. Look at the number of times your company and product and/or services are mentioned over time to help determine success. Consider engagement around your brand online as well. Are there comments and discussions going on? Did your sales team experience a noticeable uptick? Have you noticed more shares of updates and images? More positive activity and involvement typically indicates that you and your advocates are doing something right.
  • Leads. You also need to track social leads to determine if your employee advocacy strategy is resonating. You can track leads through website analytics, comments on social media about requesting a follow-up, along other methods. Keep records of inquiries by phone, email or text. Note whether new leads use specific phrases and keywords associated with a recent employee advocacy initiative.

How does employee advocacy help franchise organizations like yours?

Even with a broader understanding of the benefits and some ideas for getting started, you may feel unprepared to begin your own employee advocacy program. What if there were an easy way to jump-start the process and get employees involved?

Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social gives franchise owners and employees a simple way to share carefully selected content across their social networks. From amplifying social media reach to improving internal communications to boosting social selling, this platform does it all. It unifies fragmented messaging, provides essential metrics and KPIs and enables your employees to effortlessly transition to intentional brand ambassadors.

Watch as your franchise advocates amplify your messages and report on the success of your advocacy program.

Drive additional visits and conversions with reviews

It doesn’t matter how many franchisees are in your company: you need to integrate local reviews into your marketing strategy to attract customers. Let’s explore how your franchises can center locality.

The impact of online reviews

Online review management is one of the main ways to create a local online presence to get customers into your stores.

People rely on reviews to make purchase decisions. A survey from BrightLocal shows 76% of consumers regularly read online reviews when browsing for local businesses. And 46% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends or family.

Which review website has the most impact?

Although BrightLocal research shows 98% of customers read online reviews for local businesses on Google, other review sites can also impact your brand reputation. Some of the most popular review sites (in terms of search volume) include Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook Pages and Glassdoor. Sprout Social offers integrations these top review networks, along with the app stores (Google Play and Apple App Store) so you can review and replay to feedback in one platform.

How review management works alongside local marketing

Reviews can influence your franchise’s SEO rankings, too. Online reviews are one of the top factors that determine where a business shows up in local search results, according to Moz. Specifically, the pace at which you receive new reviews and the amount of online reviews you have for each franchise location contribute to where your franchise locations rank in search results. That’s why review management across multiple review platforms and locations is necessary for franchises to be found.

How should online review management be shared between franchisors and franchisees?

There are several things to consider when deciding on the workflow and responsibilities of online review management.

The first decision is whether or not you want the franchisee to manage their own review site pages. If the answer is yes, then you can provide educational tools to the franchisees to manage their reviews. If you choose to have the franchisees manage their own reviews, then you could host a webinar explaining how to respond to negative or positive reviews, for example.

You can also provide an incentive program for your franchisees–like offering awards for the franchisee that responds to the most reviews in a year.

If you don’t feel comfortable having franchisees take control of their online reviews, you have to make sure you still have online review pages claimed for each franchise—this includes Google My Business and Facebook Pages. You then should create a process to manage all franchisee reviews. Be sure the process includes a response strategy, incentives for generating new customer reviews consistently and recommendations for analysis.

Make social customer care a core part of your franchise marketing plan

As a franchisor or franchisee that operates multiple (sometimes hundreds or thousands) locations, you’re likely receiving hundreds or thousands of mentions, messages and comments. Along with customer praises and questions, franchises are concerned with customer care and fielding complaints.

Whether you’re a franchise owner or franchisee, if you can turn those negative comments into positive interactions and focus on improving your social customer care, you’ll make a lasting impression on your customers.

In fact, The Sprout Social Index found that 76% of consumers notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support. And for the companies with enough foresight to think beyond just shares and impressions, there’s much more to be gained–like revenue.

Here’s what to prioritize when thinking about franchise social customer care.

Handle customer care consistently across locations

Create service level agreements (SLAs) for your corporate brand and your franchise locations to follow. Index data found that 69% of customers expect a response from a brand within 24 hours.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ illustrating how quickly consumers expect a response from brands on social in 2022 and 2023. In 2023, nearly 70% expect a response within 24 hours or less. In 2022, 77% of consumers expected a response within 24 hours or less.

Align with your marketing and customer service leaders on a reasonable response time to strive for across your corporate accounts and your franchisee location accounts. You want customers to get a consistent response from every franchise they contact, regardless of the location they visited.

Train social customer care reps how to handle social replies

Social media customer service training is essential to ensuring support agents understand the nuances of providing care. Give your customer care teams training that shows them how to deliver brand-friendly service, escalation tactics and crisis management procedures.

Use social media management tools to scale customer care

As your franchise business grows, you’ll need to scale your customer care as well to address more customers. Sprout’s customer care solution consolidates billions of social conversations across major social networks and review sites so you can efficiently manage customer inquiries, at scale.

Empower franchise marketing efforts with social media management software

Whether you manage the marketing for a trendy new smoothie shop, create social content for a chain of gyms or run the marketing for a global fast-food conglomerate, you realize that your marketing approach is fundamentally different from that of your non-franchise counterparts.

However, by implementing some or all of these ideas, you will help you scale your business and drive new business to all of your locations. To get hands-on experience with optimizing your franchise marketing strategy, sign up for a free Sprout trial.