Digital Publicity

Digital Publicity

Who should manage your social media presence? Remember, you get what you pay for.

By Heather Ripley

The most successful franchises are all about return on investment. On the corporate side, years are spent developing the perfect business model and fine-tuning the back-office systems that provide the best value to franchise owners.

Successful franchise networks provide their franchisees with social media, marketing and public relations support. But like anything else in business, the services must be evaluated on whether the expenditure is worth the investment.

These are common concerns. In a 2018 HubSpot survey of businesses, 40 percent of respondents said their top challenge is “proving ROI of marketing activities.”

Some might think that managing your social media presence can’t be that hard. It’s just posting on Facebook or tweeting a couple of times a week, right? It might be tempting to push the duty off on an intern or some entry-level employee. It can also be attractive to just outsource social media management to the lowest bidder or to a virtual assistant anywhere in the world.

Taking the cheapest route can cost your business more in the long-term. When it comes to managing your company’s social media presence, you will get the most ROI by partnering with an experienced communications agency. A PR team can cost-effectively communicate your message in ways that are tailored to the specific challenges of the franchise industry.

Keep it In-House?

Why not keep social media management and other public relations duties in-house instead? It would seem to be a great way to ensure a good ROI and to minimize expenditures; however, that’s not always the case. 

By the time you’ve paid for salaries, benefits and training, you’ve already exceeded the cost of outsourcing. Add in the overhead of time spent on supervision as well as office space and equipment, and the prospect for a solid ROI gets a little iffier. Especially if you ask the question, does your staff actually have the expertise to get results? 

Winning Strategies

A PR agency’s team of experts has in-depth knowledge of the latest trends in social media and best practices to promote your company, but that’s only part of the equation. Social media should be just one part of a broader public relations strategy that includes obtaining media coverage and creating compelling content to help drive interest in your business.

Partnering with a firm that specializes in the franchise industry means the agency knows your niche. Franchises face the unique challenge of marketing to two audiences: those who buy products or services from individual franchise businesses and potential franchisees who want to invest in a business opportunity. 

A social media strategy that targets potential customers will be different from one that targets potential franchisees. For recruiting customers, you’ll need a strategy that capitalizes upon the power of Facebook and Twitter. For courting potential franchisees, being able to leverage LinkedIn for networking and brand recognition is the name of the game.

Social media campaigns targeting consumers can promote products or services, offer important household tips and information, introduce them to the culture of the franchise network and even help recruit workers for the individual franchises.

Wooing potential franchisees through social media also means leveraging earned media coverage about the franchisor as well as content created to establish executives as thought leaders in their industry. It takes extensive experience to know how to best reach out to two separate audiences, each with their own nuances and requirements. An experienced franchise public relations agency can hit the ground running with social media campaigns, without the trial and error of getting your own employees up to speed. 

Proving ROI

This leads us to the original question: How can you prove the ROI of marketing activities? Professional PR firms can track progress through solid metrics to show you are getting what you’re paying for.  These agencies already have systems in place to provide clear and useful data about social media campaigns from start to finish, showing the true impact on growing your bottom line.

Every day, business owners and franchisors face tough decisions about how to best invest their operating dollars. Does it make more sense to devote a considerable amount of staff time to generating positive social media publicity? Would it be a better investment to free them up to directly serve customers and grow the business? 

Outsourcing social media management to franchise communications experts can offer proven ROI for businesses. You might have every confidence your low-cost person could do a fine job but, ultimately, you get what you pay for.

Heather Ripley is the founder and CEO of Tennessee-based Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in franchising. She is also a guest contributor to Entrepreneur.com.

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