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Online Success
Franchises Discover the Power of Social Media

April 2015
Colleen McKenna

Colleen McKenna

Content, posts, updates, shares, reviews and a growing number of social channels makes running a business more challenging and exhausting than ever. The beauty of owning a franchise is the playbook. If nothing else, franchisees have best practices and a support group to help them navigate pitfalls and optimize success.

That’s the good news. But what about LinkedIn and social media? How have franchise organizations, especially mature franchises, adapted to social media? And, how prepared are franchisees? How comfortable are they with LinkedIn and other platforms? For those who say they don’t have time or don’t like it, kindly rethink that statement. These tools have the potential to make or break your business. Your business and reputation may be dependent on these various platforms.

Let’s consider the research.

LinkedIn is central to the sales of franchises. According to the 2014 Franchise Development Report that analyzed 101 franchisors and about 35,000 units:
• The Internet was the leading source of franchise sales in 2013, at 42 percent.
• Franchise sales generated through social media increased year-over-year by 267 percent.
• Forty percent of franchise sales through soial media originated from LinkedIn.

Let’s take a look at how you, as a franchisor, should weave LinkedIn into your strategy.

When a potential franchisee visits your LinkedIn profile they should find someone they want to know and potentially do business with. A profile that is anemic, not filled out, poorly scripted and non-compelling may cause someone to be less than impressed and move on. Are you willing to take that chance considering the number of franchises available for purchase? How do your employees look?

If a potential franchisee visits your LinkedIn Company Page will they see content that gives them a vibe about how you engage through professional and social media channels? When they look at your employees on LinkedIn will it create a sense of confidence or a ho-hum, lackluster feeling? Does your LinkedIn Company Page link potential franchisees back to your website? Do you have a LinkedIn Company Page Showcase Page that speaks to the franchisee experience? Are you sharing your franchise story?

Are your employees reaching out in a meaningful way to their networks promoting your company? Remember, to some degree, everyone is in business development today. Your employees’ networks are important and may lead to a business opportunity.

Are you in the LinkedIn Groups where potential franchisees might be? If so, don’t pitch other members; engage, educate and create natural opportunities to start a conversation. LinkedIn Groups are a powerful way to research, and see what people are talking about.

Now, let’s take a look at how you, as a franchisee, should weave LinkedIn into your strategy.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is strong and it tells your professional story. Were you a former CEO or entrepreneur? What impression does your LinkedIn profile give to a potential franchisor? Let LinkedIn do some of the work for you. Franchisors are looking and searching for the right-fit franchisees on LinkedIn every day. Do you want them to find you? You will if you are serious about buying a franchise.

LinkedIn Groups will also be a great place for you to learn more about the franchise business, who’s considered reputable and what the franchisee experience is like.

You can even do an Advanced Search, look for other franchisees and either connect or InMail (Premium Membership required) them to ask about their experience. That’s helpful.

Regardless of whether you’re the franchisor or the franchisee, LinkedIn and social channels can help you find the right-fit and manage profitability sooner.

Don’t forget, once you move forward, communicate clearly about how LinkedIn and social media should be implemented. Have a clear understanding of how centralized or decentralized it will be and how to leverage the various tools according to a social media playbook. Manage this well and you may realize LinkedIn and social media are not so bad after all.

Colleen McKenna is a LinkedIn specialist, a speaker with Vistage International, and the principal of Intero Advisory, helping business professionals use technology to grow their business. Contact her at colleen@interoadvisory.com or www.linkedin/in/colleenmckenna.

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