Influencer Marketing For Franchise Businesses

Influencer Marketing For Franchise Businesse

A remix of the classic celebrity endorsement, the “influencer marketing” campaign puts a collaborative spin on an old classic.  In this blog post, we explain how it works.

In March of 2024, Little Caesars franchises around North America debuted a new menu item: Crazy Puffs. Described as “four handheld pizza puffs with mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce and topped with a buttery garlic flavored drizzle, Italian herb, and parmesan seasoning,” these snackable bites are ultimately just a remix of the same flavors ingredients everywhere else on the menu, just with a slightly-different form factor.

And yet, shortly after they debuted — before ads touting the new item had even rolled out — Crazy Puffs began flying out of the warming drawer faster than even the most Italian-seasoned crews could make more.

There’s no denying the puffs are good (after all, they’re essentially pizza cupcakes), but that alone couldn’t explain the runaway success. The secret sauce (pun intended) to their success? Influencers got ahold of the Crazy Puffs, and they went viral.

In this case, the viral surge was largely organic and driven by real enthusiasm for this new product. But you don’t have to wait for lightning to strike: you can harness the power of influencer marketing to drive sales in your franchise business.

In this blog post, we’ll give you the rundown on influencer marketing for franchise businesses: how it works, what to keep in mind — and what to avoid. Read on:


Read This: 5 Reasons Your Franchise Should Advertise On CTV In 2024

What is Influencer Marketing?

The internet is full of people with huge followings: entertainers, self-help gurus, handymen, and more. When you have an audience that big, your word tends to carry more weight, influencing audience opinion, behavior, purchases, and more. Collectively, these social media stars are called “Influencers,” because that’s what they do. One successful post can send thousands (or millions) of viewers scrambling to a new product or hobby or destination — or running in the other direction to a competitor. 

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with these people, convincing them to wield their influence and audience to your own marketing ends. For businesses, influencer marketing offers the opportunity to humanize the brand by connecting it to someone your target audience already likes. When done well, influencer marketing can feel more authentic than other forms of advertising.

Some studies have shown up to 90% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand that comes recommended, even if that recommendation comes from someone they’ve never met. 

Why is Influencer Marketing Important?

To put it more specifically, why is influencer marketing important when franchise businesses already have so many traditional marketing methods available to them? To be worth marketing-budget money, influencer marketing must be satisfying an itch that can’t be easily scratched any other way.

Franchise businesses can benefit from influencer marketing in several ways:

  • Credibility and Trust: Influencers often build their names off of expertise, sharing their knowledge of some particular subject or niche. If that niche aligns with your business, a collaboration can help extend that influencer’s halo of trust to encompass your brand.

  • Niche Audience Targeting: In the modern era, some demographics are harder to reach than traditional marketing channels. Young people, especially, can spend a lot of time on social media instead of reading print publications, watching TV, listening to the radio, etc. Whatever audience you’re trying to target, however, probably has at least one trusted name working as an influencer somewhere.

  • Enhanced Brand Visibility: Little Caesars was founded in 1959, but the viral furor around Crazy Puffs clearly got them increased – or renewed – notice. Sometimes brand visibility is an introduction, but sometimes it’s a reminder, especially among consumers who may have written you off.

If that all sounds good, you’re probably wondering how to get started. 

Finding the Right Influencers For You

Hopefully, someone at your organization is keeping an eye on social media, to see what your target audiences are saying about not just your products, but other pain points and topics of interest among your desired demographics. If not, it’s definitely something to start. Social media platforms have moods and rhythms that aren’t always obvious and can’t be forced. Like learning a foreign language, the best solution is immersion.

Once you’ve gotten started, here are some things to consider: 

  • Social Media Platform: Overall, Instagram has long been known as the best place for influencer marketing, with YouTube coming in second. But those aren’t the only places influencers can be found: Facebook, Twitter/X, TikTok, and other sites are hubs for influencer activity, but they each attract different demographics and communities. Learning where your community is, and who influences them, is key.

  • Engagement Rates: Obviously, you’re not going to wander onto Instagram and hand a bag of money to the first username you run across. Running the numbers to see what sort of reach various accounts have is crucial. Look for influencers with high engagement rates (likes, comments, shares) rather than just large follower counts — followers might be inactive, but engagement numbers show how far one’s influence really stretches.

  • Ban The Bots: One caveat to the above is running some checks to ensure a user’s traffic is legitimate, and not full of bots or other forms of manipulation.

  • Brand Alignment: Influencer content is designed to show up natively in their feed, very similar to the sort of content they normally produce. So if their “normal” content is profane, family-unfriendly, overly political, etc., you might want to assess how their brand aligns with yours.

Every marketing niche has someone out there whose brand aligns with their own, though. If you’re running hardware stores, checking out DIY influencers who could show off tools or projects will work great. If you’re running chains of pet groomers or boarders, then channels for people trying to train or care for their pets are everywhere. If you run a restaurant franchise, that’s easy: everybody’s got to eat.

Finding influencers who A) produce content that aligns with what you’re selling and B) generally reach the audience you’re trying to target is what you’re trying to do. 

Executing an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Once you’ve set your sights on an influencer, the time has come to reach out to your chosen candidate with your collaboration proposal. 

  • Set Realistic Goals: Define the outcomes you hope to achieve from this collaboration, such as increasing foot traffic, generating leads, or launching new products. Keeping in mind that an influencer campaign is not a magic bullet, try to keep your goals modest to start.

  • Negotiate Contracts: Clearly outline expectations, deliverables, and compensation in your contract. Influencers are often far less-expensive than other forms of digital campaigns, and influencers may also accept a combination of cash with things like free services, swag, etc.

  • Develop Compelling Content: Ultimately, the influencer will be in the driver’s seat for this portion; after all, they’ve gotten to where they are by knowing their audience and their channel. Yield to their knowledge, but it’s okay to have notes, i.e., “clean up the language,” or “don’t mention our competitor,” things of that nature.

  • Coordinate with Franchisees: Make sure your franchisees are aware of what’s going on, and make sure they have the resources available to deal with an influx. You don’t want franchisees forced to deal with fallout like when McDonald’s promised Rick & Morty fans a special dipping sauce and didn’t have quantities to meet the demand.

Measuring Your Success, And Other Problems

Influencer marketing campaigns can be somewhat harder to track, depending on the campaign. They can generate an accumulation of word-of-mouth, quote-tweets, and other forms of social media engagement that may track as organic, but begin with your influencer. Many companies counter this by giving the influencer a unique promotional code for users to type in at checkout so that they can identify which business came from that campaign. Others generate unique landing page links that connect back to the influencer.

But, influencer marketing campaigns are tricky. The mystique and power of an influencer often comes from their authenticity, so your collaboration can’t be seen as forced. And remember that the connection between your brand and the influencer is a two-way street.

Budweiser thought they could gain ground with younger LGBT customers by tagging influencer Dylan Mulvaney for their brand, but underestimated the effect this collaboration would have on their established customer base.

Ultimately, any marketing plan has risks, and influencer marketing is no exception. Just as you would with any other celebrity endorsement, you have to weigh the pros and cons.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, influencer marketing is becoming increasingly common for a reason: it often gets results at a far-lower cost than traditional campaigns, and targets market niches you might not be able to reach through a more-traditional strategy. If you’re careful, respectful, and get your franchisees on board.

If you’re a franchise brand looking for better ways to track your marketing efforts, Balihoo is a solution that demands a look. You can get started today by reaching out to our team. With a focus on hyperlocal marketing for franchise brands, we’re the leader in multi-location marketing for a reason.


Written by
Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer

Sean Kelly is a Senior Content Specialist, St. Louis-based engagement expert with 20 years of experience in content writing, and 8 years in adtech.

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