Franchisees in social media

Let’s YO! Yogurt
Founder-turned-franchisee Eric Casaburi went all-in with social media when he launched the Let’s YO! frozen yogurt concept last fall. The store’s sign looks like a text message. A big screen TV constantly refreshes the Let’s YO! Facebook page. Up to a dozen iPads sit on the tables at each location for customers to post pictures, Tweet, and Facebook the eating experience and participate in social media contests. “Most people promote their business through the Internet. We promote the Internet through the brick and mortar,” says Casaburi.

Casaburi knows that social media doesn’t exist in a virtual vacuum, so he’s testing out offline ways to build online followers. “We just came up with these really cool window clings that have a QR code. Scan it and it takes you right to our Facebook wall to like us,” he says. Customers get the instant gratification of seeing their photos and comments pop up on the shop’s television. Casaburi sees social media as a powerful informational source, whether it’s listing the flavors of the day, posting seasonal hours or fielding questions about birthday parties. “For us, it’s not just trying to sell the customer something. We’re trying to do more telling than selling,” he says.

MOOYAH; Burleson, Tex.
MOOYAH franchisee Bailey McGuire only opened his doors about seven months ago, but he was active on Facebook long before that. McGuire printed up Facebok signs so that passersby curious about the construction could learn more about the new restaurant. “We put our signs up very early as a marketing tool to get the word out,” he says.

McGuire has already claimed his space on Yelp, Foursquare and Google Maps, and is ramping up his social media presence as he moves through his first year. He has already learned which social media avenues are most effective for Burleson, which has meant a focus on Facebook. “Foursquare just isn’t as popular as it used to be,” says McGuire.

Since Burleson is a town of about 35,000, McGuire doesn’t need tens of thousands of followers to see the benefits of a social media strategy. One measure of his social media success is the number of people that come in to redeem deals. A recent promotion brought a dozen Facebook fans into his restaurant for free fries. That sort of response can help turn a small-town franchise into a success.

Domino’s Pizza Chicago
Ramon De Leon is the marketing mastermind behind a six-unit Domino’s franchise in Chicago. His social media success has brought over 12,000 Twitter followers to his personal page alone. De Leon has thought up expanded uses for social media, such as personally delivering pizzas through a Twitter giveaway. One of the biggest lessons from De Leon’s approach is the power of creating personal connections through social media. Follow his social media moves on Twitter @Ramon_DeLeon.

Red Mango; Austin, Texas
All-natural frozen yogurt chain Red Mango has nearly 330,000 Facebook fans. Red Mango franchisee Bill Chinn has carved his own Facebook following by racking up over 5,000 local fans for his Austin location and over 3,000 for his College Station location. That success is a reflection of the chain’s overall emphasis on social media. Red Mango even requires its franchisees to have Facebook pages. Chinn has gone beyond the basics by tapping into the college loyalties of his customers with promotions based on local football.

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