Brands need to make sure they own their digital presence and stay on top of social media trends to maintain relevance in 2020.
The hustle it takes to maintain a strong online presence is real, which is why both emerging and established brands need to utilize all of the tools available to them if they plan to build buzz in 2020—and place as high as possible in those Google searches.
Cameron Torabi, President of digital marketing agency Main Goes Big, and Jonathan Pace, president of On Pace Franchising, are certified digital experts int he franchising space. Holding such a title means both industry pros have a wealth of advice for franchisors as it relates to improving their digital footprints.
According to Pace, there are two major components to a strong online presence: email marketing and social media. Email marketing, he said, requires a solid CRM tool for tracking customers and creating newsletters and other communications, while social media likely necessitates the use of posting tools for maximum effectiveness.
Pace specifically cited resources such as Sprout Social, ActiveCampaign and Moz Local as being especially helpful for brands looking to spread the word about their business and manage their daily social media activity more efficiently on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
“Depending on your business, you might want to specialize in some of these smaller platforms, but as far as social media goes, Facebook is a giant out there,” Pace said. “LinkedIn for Business, especially, is one of the ones that you don’t want to miss.”
Companies should use Google Analytics, as well, “because if you can review and understand the data, you can start to make better business decisions for your franchise,” Pace said.
When it comes to social media, brands need to make sure they have a human online presence on their various social media platforms. Consumers, Pace said, want to know what a company does and why they do it and whether they will be able to get behind that company. For this reason, brands should make sure their social media posts have that human element and do not simply consist of stock images, he said, adding that if there is “anything worthwhile taking photos of - and I think that there always is - your business should definitely have an Instagram page as well,” Pace said.
Pace’s advice to more established franchise brands as they move into 2020 is to make sure to stay in line with modern digital trends and view traditional channels like print marketing and TV ads with a more critical eye.
“Nowadays, I think we all agree that when the TV ads come on, the phones come out,” Pace said. “A few people might still pay attention, but even then it’s very unlikely that they hit you with the right commercial at the very right time.”
Torabi noted that the strongest position to take in marketing is an all-encompassing strategy. The key thing for emerging brands—and franchise brands, especially—is to keep their image and presence unified across the digital landscape.
“A brand’s ecosystem needs to be a captivating digital sphere that can encompass the multiple streams that bring in your audience,” Torabi wrote in an email.
Since most consumer engagements with a product or service or destination start online with a search, it is “imperative” for brands to rank highly on search engines, and the means for how people are searching online is evolving, Torabi said. He noted that voice search is becoming the go-to for consumers, whether it’s Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
Getting those competitive search results, though, takes time, Torabi noted. “Even though we have become accustomed to the internet providing instant gratification, unfortunately, that is not how it works typically when it comes to ranking in the top tier of Google’s first page,” he said.
As for social media, Torabi noted, current trends are “leaning strongly toward influencers.”
So many shifts and changes in the digital landscape might seem insurmountable to brands, but they need to make sure they employ resources that will help them stay relevant.
“Trends change at a rapid pace, and staying relevant can be a daunting challenge, so it is key to capture every opportunity that is available and to drive that equity into your digital galaxy,” Torabi wrote. “Let the influencers, social platforms, reviews, and PPC dollars be the bricks that build your virtual storefront.”
Torabi’s advice to brands when it comes to establishing their digital footprint in 2020 is to “own your image and footprint,” adding that it is as important to be an active participant on the prominent platforms as it is for brands to build their own “galaxy.”
Torabi and Pace agree: brands need to start doing the legwork now if they want to build buzz in 2020.
“It’s a lot about getting it started and getting the activity going and not necessarily perfecting the outcome right away, but letting it grow in a way that the end-users or consumers or participants can also be actively involved,” Pace said. He added that without even devoting a huge chunk of budget, brands can start “getting on different platforms and starting the activity now, because it always needs to grow and evolve."