Top marketing executives from some of the most popular and growing franchise systems recently spoke at the Philadelphia Chapter of the International Franchise Association Women’s Franchise Network meeting about capitalizing on social media to increase sales and build business.

According to the esteemed panelists, by far the two most utilized social media sites used in marketing to potential franchisees is LinkedIn and the still classic, Facebook.   LinkedIn and Facebook  provide the most fertile ground for executives and entrepreneurs seeking new business opportunities.

Although, unlike consumer focused marketing, marketing to franchisees is not regularly scheduled on a continuous drip.  On the consumer side, it is easier to have scheduled posts and consistent content.  For marketing to franchisees, panelist described a common strategy of ensuring that content is timely and focused on news that will motivate new franchisees to come on board.  Veronica McKee, Vice-President of Marketing at Philly Pretzel Factory, said that she focuses on new openings.  Public relations related to the success of new franchised outlets is the best way to get new franchisees through the door.

Jena Henderson, VP of Growth at Saladworks, was frank telling the group that systems will not hit the right online analytics on the backside if they are not using video.  Using videos of franchisees and their staff are a very productive way to connect to prospective franchisees to sell the brand.   Focusing on the message is also critically important.  Ashley Mitchell, VP of Marketing & Communication at Soccer Shots Franchising, cautioned attendees to make sure the messaging is right.   Once on board at Soccer Shots she quickly realized that photos of smiling happy children was great but didn’t deliver completely on qualified leads.  She worked to adjust the messaging to focus on the business benefits of owning a Soccer Shots franchise to increase the interest of LinkedIn and Facebook subscribers and expand the pool of potential franchise owners.

Regardless of how a franchise system decides to use social media, our panelists were all consistent in one piece of advice.  BE READY TO PIVOT.   An 18 month marketing plan is really just a pretty picture.  Don’t be surprised that when it constantly changes as channels to reach prospects change, messaging changes and competitors change.  Although Ashley Mitchell was quick to remind attendees to be ready to pivot in ways that are strategic and make sense for your brand.  Chasing a shiny object for the sake of chasing a shiny object won’t benefit your system in the long run.

Stayed tuned for Part II where we discuss how and when our panelist use loyalty apps, outside agencies and other service providers to drive franchise sales.