How to manage your franchise reputation with social media
From Facebook to LinkedIn, YouTube to Twitter, social media is so tightly woven into the fabric of our personal and professional lives, it’s hard to imagine functioning without it. Whether looking for the day’s headlines or the best cup of joe, consumers rely on social media for news, networking, and information about the products and services they use.
How does this reliance on social media affect your franchise? After all, your brand is likely already well established and managed (to a certain extent) by the corporate office. You may even already benefit from corporate’s marketing efforts to establish good brand visibility online.
Yet regardless of how much positive publicity your brand receives on a national level, if your specific location experiences negative feedback online, customers will think twice before spending their money with you. Conversely, if your location is receiving more positive accolades than commonly associated with the brand, there lies an opportunity to distinguish yourself among other locations and help elevate the brand overall.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of keeping up with what your customers are saying about you on social media and business review sites and how you can help manage your reputation on these sites.
What are the most popular social media outlets?
Consumers use a wide range of social media platforms depending on their posting and browsing preferences and informational needs. Facebook and Instagram top the list of social network sites. Facebook is also among the top business review sites, along with Google My Business, Amazon, and Yelp. Here’s a snapshot of how these social media platforms influence consumer purchasing:
Facebook: influenced 52 percent of consumers’ online and office purchasing decisions in 2015.
Instagram:53 percent of the platform’s followers follow brands for product information.
Google My Business: #1 rated site for customer reviews for every type of business.
Amazon: has featured business reviews for more than 20 years.
Yelp: has published more than 142 million reviews by end of Q3 2017.
While you may not have an active presence on all these social media platforms, chances are good that your customers are using any combination of these sites. And even if the corporate office has established domains on these sites, they may not be actively monitoring all the activity related to their franchisees. Why does this matter? Keep reading.
Why you need to know what your customers are saying online—good or bad.
Brand reputation is directly related to the success of your business, and online reviews are a powerful contributor to that reputation. Research shows that nine out of ten consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and eight out of ten change their mind about a purchase based on a negative review. Furthermore, a one star increase on a review site like Yelp can drive an increase in revenue of 5-9 percent.
Bottom line: you need to know what your customers are saying so you can ensure they are satisfied with their experience and, if not, take the necessary steps to solve any problems.
Automated tools can make it easier to track your online reputation.
Managing your social media presence requires being both proactive and reactive. On the proactive side, social media can be a great vehicle to announce promotions, special events, and new offerings.
Since consumers grow weary of blatant advertising online, it’s best to post a mix of interesting and interactive content and sales-focused information. For example, instead of simply announcing the weekly “Friday Free Scoop” flavor, an ice cream franchise could ask customers to vote for their favorite among three options. This is a way to grow brand affinity by directly engaging customers.
Responding to customer reviews falls on the reactive side of managing your online reputation. While nearly impossible to do manually, automated reputation tracking tools make it much easier.
A customizable, automated monitoring system like Vantiv BizShield, for example, keeps track of a business’ online reputation and sends alerts regarding negative online reviews, incorrect business listings, and more. This provides a better understanding of what customers are concerned about, as well as the opportunity to solve issues right away. It’s worth recognizing both positive and negative customer experiences because nearly 80 percent of consumers view a business more favorably when they respond to an online review.
Take control of your online presence.
With more and more consumers going online to research the businesses they are interested in before making any purchasing decisions, the importance of maintaining a positive online presence cannot be overstated.
You may want to begin by contacting your franchise corporate office. Find out how actively the brand is managed across the most popular social media outlets and the tools available for tracking local online reviews and business listings. If you find that you are on your own for tracking and managing customer feedback for your location, consider implementing an online reputation tracking tool. Consult with your payment processor to learn more about your options, or ask Vantiv about BizShield.