Traditional wisdom says that consistency is the key to building a brand. But we’ve found that when it comes to franchising, maintaining consistency at the local level is an ongoing challenge.
True, in a national franchise model, there are many messages which just wouldn’t make sense coming from the brand at a national level, or from every affiliate in the network even at a local level. That is especially true in the real estate industry in which local market conditions drive the business.
But with the advent of social media, brands and franchisees have the best of both worlds, leveraging new platforms to deliver content that is both branded and local.
ERA Real Estate weighed in on this topic earlier this summer at the 2012 Consumer Business Relationship conference, which took place in Boston, Mass. Historically an academic conference, this year the agenda featured a panel of practicing marketing professionals who brought to life many of the concepts studied and researched at the academic level.
The panel, which included ERA Real Estate’s brand and social media manager Carla Hayes, explored the dynamics of the consumer/brand relationship within a franchising model. A portion of the discussion revolved around social media for its ability to amplify the brand experience at both the national and franchisee level.
In our experience, social media can help build brands because of its ability to penetrate at the hyper-local level with market-appropriate content, giving franchisees a chance to strengthen customer relationships, promote themselves as a local resource and establish their expertise. Consumers engage with information they need, on a platform that is accessible on their own time, and that maintains and increases brand loyalty by marrying the cache of a global franchise with the local expertise of our franchisees.
So how do you get the right mix of brand and local content on individual franchise social media profiles? Providing brokers with access to a nationally managed content library as well as a scheduling tool that simplifies the process and saves time has allowed us to drive standards to a local level while giving brokers the chance to be unique to their local market. We also have the ability to disseminate system-wide posts from the national office to augment local efforts and extend the brand into spaces we normally would not penetrate.
One of the great things about deploying a national social media strategy at ERA Real Estate is that social media by its very nature is consistent with the core values of the ERA community: from our founding, our franchisees have established a culture of collaboration like no other brand in the real estate industry. In addition to facilitating connections to customers, social media also allows our franchisees to connect and keep up with each other, further strengthening that which has served to distinguish us for more than 40 years. From that perspective, what’s not to “Like”?
-Charlie Young, President & CEO, ERA Franchise Systems LLC