Is your Franchise Agreement social media savvy?
Do your Franchise Agreements and policies ensure your brand keeps a consistent voice across all channels and locations, including social media used by your Franchisees? If not, you need to act now!
What should you do?
There are 3 ways to approach the use of social media by your Franchisees:
Option 1: The Franchisor has total central control
The Franchisee is prohibited from operating a website and/or uploading anything on social media.
The Franchisor owns all social media accounts and actively uploads material on behalf of the network.
Option 2: The Franchisee gives input with central approval by the Franchisor
The Franchisor permits the Franchisee to upload statements or images on social media provided that the Franchisor approves the content first.
Option 3: The Franchisee has control within guidelines
The Franchisor permits the Franchisee to upload statements or images on social media with strict guidelines specifying what content is permitted.
Which approach is best?
Deciding which way to go will depend on your business model, needs, clients and structure.
There is no ‘one fits all’ approach – you decide for yourself what best suits your network.
Once you’ve decided which way to go, you must set guidelines upfront. You can do this by establishing a policy manual for your network’s social media use. This is usually better than having it in your Franchise Agreement – you can amend the policy as you see fit along the way (but of course make sure your Franchise Agreement reflects this).
What to do next?
Implementing the policy is where things can get difficult.
For example, if a Franchisor permits its Franchisees to set up their own social media accounts, there should be a clear statement on the social media page that it is created and managed by the specific Franchisee.
However, it may be difficult to facilitate a transfer to the Franchisor at the end of term, especially if the social media platform provider does not allow it.
To deal with this, we recommend all end of term provisions in your Franchise Agreements should deal with the Franchisee’s obligations to cease use of the social media accounts and/or transfer them to the Franchisor.
Franchisors should ideally have social media management software to ease the setup and ongoing management of these accounts.
Training for Franchisees on social media risks is also advisable.
Franchisors also need to be aware that they could be held liable for fake testimonials, especially if the Franchisor is aware of them and does not take action to remove them. A contractual right to remove fake testimonials should be included in the Franchise Agreement to assist in this process.
All sounds too hard? It doesn’t need to be! Stick to a few rules- decide where control of the account lies, have a clear social media policy and use appropriate software to set up and manage your social media flow.