Tim Morris, managing director of Cymphony, shares his advice on the benefits of brands using social media and how to provide an exceptional service across these channels
In the fast-paced world of franchising, it can be challenging to know how to make your mark and lead the way when it comes to the brand’s progression. However, with 4.62 billion people worldwide now using social media and 424 million new users coming online within the last 12 months, perfecting the art of social media is crucial for businesses.
With the pandemic forcing businesses online, it will come as little surprise that a massive 66 per cent of the UK population are now using social media platforms to reach their audiences. But what does this mean for your franchise business? Well, it means that now is the time to make sure your business has a presence and is engaged with consumers through social media channels. So, here are my three top benefits social media can have on your franchise in 2022.
Your audience is growing on social media
As your audience is constantly growing on social media, there is a greater chance for your brand to gain exposure. The beauty of social media is that there is something out there for everyone. So, you can bet that there is a channel out there that targets your relevant audience. To put into perspective the power of social channels, Facebook has over 500 million active users that spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. Twitter has over 100 million users and they tweet 55 million times a day. LinkedIn has over 75 million members in over 200 countries.
For most franchises, sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are great ways to raise your brand awareness with your B2B or B2C audiences. So, the more you invest in your social channels, the more exposure you will have. However, remember, it is all about quality over quantity and consistency when posting on social media. Once you have set up an informative page about your business, try creating and sharing some useful content that could catch the eye of potential customers and colleagues. The more valuable a contribution you make to the platform, the more likely you are to appear in search results and on home pages as far too many companies use social media to ‘advertise’, which normally results in no engagement.
Another big benefit to using social media for your business is that it will boost your standing in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO is the process of ensuring that you are as high as possible on Google search result pages for searches relating to what your business has to offer. This is vital when it comes to successful marketing, and having a presence on social media will certainly help with this.
It is a great recruitment tool
Besides offering your brand great exposure, social media sites can also be great recruitment tools for businesses. As a franchisee, finding the best employees can be one of the most challenging aspects of running your business, but sites like LinkedIn can make it really easy. In fact, recent statistics show that 40 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week, so it is fast becoming the go-to place for people looking for work. By setting up your own page all about your business, those looking for roles in companies such as yours can also find and reach out to you; cutting your recruitment costs.
Professionals from almost all industries can set up a profile on LinkedIn, and these profiles contain all the information you could possibly need to know about their working history. They can list the roles they have had and the responsibilities these involved, their qualifications to date, and even their goals for the future, making it straightforward for you to calculate their suitability as potential staff. All you have to do is search for what you are looking for, whether that is a specific skill, location, experience or anything else, and you will be given a list of relevant people.
You can build strong relationships with consumers
Social media is built to be a communication platform. So, when it comes to social media and business, it is a fantastic tool to connect with your customers, gain insight into what your market is looking for, and help solve consumers’ problems. Believe it or not, when a customer follows your business, they are not interested in trends, pop culture and memes. Consumers want great customer service first and foremost.
As well as being a handy tool to deal with customer communication, you can also use social media to craft a great reputation. You have a platform for expression that you have complete control over, so you get to decide how your franchise comes across and the kind of people it attracts.
How to provide exceptional social media services
It is scary to think that a large portion of consumers now using your services will barely be able to remember a world without the internet. Long gone are the days when a phone call was the fastest and most effective way to reach a business. However, with the birth of email, the internet became the new home for rapid customer service. And now, with social media, consumers are looking to connect with your franchise even faster and in real-time. So, ensuring you provide the very best social media customer service is pivotal.
• Answer your customers quickly
With customers wanting everything yesterday, a late answer on a social media platform can be as bad as no answer at all. A franchise’s goal should be to field questions as soon as customers ask them. However, this requires a carefully organised system with dedicated social customer care members. I recommend setting up a system that unifies all customer issues in one place and assigns specific messages to particular team members. This will enhance the efficiency and speed of resolving customer issues.
• Plan your responses
Having an excellent social media service does not just mean solving customer issues. It should also help to build your brand’s image. To achieve this, you need internal best practices that ensure your support team delights customers beyond solving their problems. For example, responding with consistent, personalised, and informative messages will ensure that your customer service appears not only professional but also friendly and approachable.
• Outsourcing is not a dirty word
For smaller franchises, there is no shame in holding your hands up and saying you do not have the time or resources to have a dedicated social media care team. This is why I recommend outsourcing this service to a third-party specialist. A company that can handle your instant messages and comment sections 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It could prove to be invaluable for your business. Hiring an expert means your franchise’s social media strategy will be taken care of, leaving you more time to get on with what is important.
There are multiple benefits to bringing social media into your business strategy as a franchisee. Not only can it help you recruit the best staff, but it also offers opportunities for exposure and improving your reputation. Furthermore, it can boost your SEO and help you win over new customers. Lastly, it allows you to collaborate with like-minded business owners to improve your prospects.
Tim Morris is the MD of Cymphony, a communications provider helping thousands of clients to build customer relationships from the first interaction.