Franchises Go Social

Top Tweets

How top companies in the Franchise 500® are using Twitter

Subway: Subway's Twitter presence, @subwayfreshbuzz, attracted more than 6,000 followers in less than six months. The sandwich shop franchise uses Twitter to interact with Subway fans two ways: sending out product and promotional news and monitoring Twitter for buzz about its brand. Recent tweets highlighted a product mention on the NBC hit reality series The Biggest Loser and directed Subway followers to check out spokesman Jared Fogle's Halloween costume.

McDonald's: After McDonald's tested Twitter to promote its Monopoly game and got more consumer impressions through tweeting than traditional media, the fast-food giant was sold on the medium. McDonald's operates two main Twitter handles. @McDonalds, which has more than 4,700 followers, is used for brand news and information as well as customer service. (Internal research shows that the company is mentioned every 10 to 20 seconds on Twitter.) @McCafeYourDay promotes the company's line of specialty coffees. And while some franchisees and corporate employees are tweeting on their own, McDonald's is testing ways to use Twitter on a regional level to benefit franchisees.

7-Eleven: Convenience-store giant 7-Eleven launched its first Twitter campaign at @7eleven in September, when it created an online game to promote its Brazilian Bold coffee to 18- to 34-year-olds. The "Wake Up With a Hot Brazilian" game awards points for choosing the correct funny "pickup lines" at The 711 Club. By playing the game, participants earn "mojo" points, redeemable for free cups of 7-Eleven coffee. A few weeks in, the game has scored about 100 followers and counting, but it has also generated a wave of buzz online and will be followed by more promotions. Some franchisees also tweet, but the company's marketing team doesn't yet monitor that.

Hampton Hotels: The official Twitter account of Hampton Hotels, @HamptonFYI, is used to promote the brand and share information relevant to travelers. Recent tweets link to articles about staying healthy on the road and saving on airfares. Followers also learn about Hampton's special rates and promotions, new hotels and community initiatives. Followers were recently invited to win a free stay by answering "What do you wish came with a 100% satisfaction guarantee?" via a responding tweet.

Supercuts: Supercuts is just starting to use Twitter and plans to tweet company updates and specials to customers at @supercuts. The company doesn't get too involved in franchisee efforts but says franchise owners are generally pleased with the results they get from promoting specials.

H&R Block: H&R Block uses @HRBlock, launched in November 2007, as a customer-care and question-and-answer tool more than a marketing vehicle. Although the company posts info about tax law changes or company news, it more frequently answers tax questions, solves log-in issues and helps connect its more than 3,600 followers with the expertise they need to get their taxes filed. Franchisees are welcome to participate on the corporate @HRBlock presence, but they are not permitted to tweet on their own.

Dunkin' Donuts: In a little more than a year, @DunkinDonuts scored more than 38,000 followers by creating a place where people can share their Dunkin' Donuts experiences. Because Dunkin' doesn't have too many national offers---exceptions include National Donut Day in June and a national free iced coffee offer in the spring---the company focuses on creating a place where people can talk about how much they love Dunkin' Donuts products. The company's Twitter page is mostly a lovefest, with followers saying things such as "Pumpkin coffee makes all of life's problems seem irrelevant" and "Faster I get to sleep; faster I get to have my DD morning happiness!! Goodnight!"

Jani-King: International President Jerry Crawford says the company is looking at incorporating social media into its online marketing strategy.

Servpro: The cleanup and restoration company is investigating how it can use Twitter to its advantage. The marketing team is trying to determine the amount of time and resources it should devote to creating a Twitter presence and how it would measure return-on-investment. The team monitors Twitter for mentions of Servpro and has noted that some franchisees are using it to keep in touch with their communities.

ampm Mini Market: The company is evaluating how to use Twitter on a corporate level. Some franchisees appear to be tweeting on their own, but it's not something the company has formally adopted. --G.M.

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Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the January 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Franchises Go Social.

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