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Many franchisees purchase strong brands and depend upon the training, leadership, branding and ongoing support provided by the franchisor. After all, without the support, franchisees would have started an independent business. Guidance and maintenance of social media policies across the franchise only protect the value of the brand.
The ability and desire to post opinions is not limited to personal endeavors. In fact, franchisees, employees of franchisees, the franchisor, and the general public all participate in social media postings. If not addressed, these unmonitored and uncontrolled postings can threaten a franchise.
Even though social media is changing, by the minute, a formal policy addressing social media must be included in franchise documentation. This formal policy should mandate that the franchisor controls all social media associated with the brand. This is not to say that franchisees and the employees of the franchisor and franchisee are prohibited from posts, but rather identify appropriate social networking, brand consistence, compliance with applicable laws and website restrictions and confidentiality. Moreover, any policy should maintain the ability for the franchisor to approve comments and or require that comments inconsistent with the franchise be removed.
Social media is a slippery slope, that left unattended, could be the demise of the value of the franchise. While beneficial in promoting the franchise, a rogue franchisee or employee could detract from the brand through inappropriate comments, support of controversial or inflammatory positions, attack of competitors and any other myriad of innocent or intentional postings. Like the brand itself, franchisor control of the social media of the franchise permits retention of the culture of the company.