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A social media policy is key to keeping your franchisees on-brand with every post.
When it comes to building a social media presence, there’s a stack of extra things to consider as franchisors. Along with establishing your brand name, you’ve also got the task of managing the social profiles of each franchisee who works for you.
A report by BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Monitor revealed that 51% of franchisors shape the social media presence of their local franchisees. However, once their franchise grows, retaining this level of control can be tough.
That’s where crafting a comprehensive social media policy comes in. This detailed governance document allows you to spell out exactly how your franchisees and their teams should be using social media. Plus it helps you reduce risk and avoid a PR disaster for your brand, too.
If you haven't already got a social media policy in place for your franchise, keep reading to discover the purpose of this document, why it’s valuable for franchise owners and a stack of practical suggestions for what to include in your social media policy.
Let’s start with the basics. A social media policy is an official document created by companies (such as franchisors) that sets out guidelines for how a franchise and their franchisee can use social media marketing.
Think of it as a corporate code of conduct for what is and isn’t acceptable to post as an employee or franchisee.
Inside, you’ll find a thorough set of guidelines that explain:
The goal of a social media policy is simple: to safeguard the reputation of a franchisor or business.
By setting expectations right from the beginning, managers and franchisors can rest assured that their franchisees and team members are going to act, speak and behave in line with the company values on social media platforms.
Pulling together a social media policy is all about reducing risk for your franchise. Without clear guidelines in place, franchisees may share valuable confidential information online or not present their brand experience consistently on social media.
There are stacks of reasons why leading global franchisors create social media policies, including:
With a clear set of guidelines in place, you can ensure your brand’s identity and reputation is maintained even as your franchise grows and scales.
While social media brand guidelines and a social media policy might sound similar, they both play distinct and important roles in your social media strategy as a franchisor.
In short, social media brand guidelines explain how to showcase your brand consistently across franchisee’s social media channels. Their main aim is to give creative direction on how to capture your desired visual identity and tone of voice.
To do this, brand guidelines (sometimes called a social media style guide) explain:
Plus, your social media brand guidelines may go one step further to spell out:
Essentially, brand guidelines are focused on retaining the integrity of your company’s visual identity and unique brand voice. On the flip side, a social media policy is a type of governance document to reduce risk, safeguard your reputation and set out procedures for how to manage your franchisees’ social media content.
Ready to lower your business risk, boost your marketing strategy and improve your social media content workflows? Here are seven key things to add to your franchise's social media policy.
First up, you need to decide which social media platforms are the best fit for your franchisees. While there are so many different platforms to choose from, you need to ensure the networks you choose are delivering tangible results for your local franchisees and your franchise business at large.
Start by defining your goals, objectives and metrics for success when showing up on social media:
Now, it’s time to match your social media goals with the right social media channels:
Once you've landed on which platforms are the right fit for your company, make sure to clearly outline this in your social media policy.
You should also consider whether you’d like each local franchise business to start their own social media profiles, or if you’d prefer to stick to one franchise account managed by your head office team.
With your social media platforms selected, it’s time to start creating your accounts. That’s where clear naming conventions come into play.
While it might sound simple, ensuring all your franchise businesses follow the same naming conventions makes it easier for customers to find your business on social media. Plus it ensures your company is presented consistently between local business locations.
A few naming conventions to consider include:
From running competitions to launching social media campaigns, each platform will have its own rules around what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable. If one of your franchisees or a team member breaks these terms, there can be consequences (such as being locked out of your social media accounts or losing certain platform functionality).
Plus, your country and local business areas are likely to have state-imposed laws around false advertising, defamation, trademark infringements, privacy violations and more. So, make sure to chat with a lawyer or your in-house legal counsel to find out what rules you need to follow.
This next step is all about explaining the rules around who owns your franchise’s social media platforms and content.
Depending on the franchise agreements you have in place with your local franchise business owners, you may decide to give ownership of the content to each individual franchisee. However, if you want to retain control over your franchise’s social media presence (no matter who owns each local store), it’s a wise move to retain ownership of all of your social media accounts.
Make sure your social media policy spells out the sharing of passwords and login details. Plus, make sure to explain what happens to each social media account if a franchisee decides to leave the business, too.
Ensuring every piece of content your franchise businesses post to social media is an incredibly important part of succeeding with social media marketing. But the larger your franchise grows, the harder it can be to safeguard the quality of your content.
That’s why your social media policy needs to explain:
Using an all-in-one social media management tool (like Sked Social) can give your franchise the power to oversee all the content going out across your business from a single dashboard. Plus, it can streamline your content review and approval processes and ensure no off-brand posts slip through the cracks.
Want to get your ALL of your franchises up and running on social? Chat with one of the Sked Team to see how we can get you set up, end-to-end, start to finish.
Plus, your social media policy needs to explain what happens if things don't go to plan. Whether it’s an external problem, an employee going rogue on social media or a hacked account, your policy needs to include a crisis management plan for these common scenarios.
Make sure this plan of action explains:
The more thorough your planning is now, the easier it will be to navigate through these crisis points if they come up.
Plus, it’s also important to pull together a set of brand guidelines tailored for social media marketing across your franchisee network. Here are a few key pieces of information to include in these social media guidelines.
How your franchise brand speaks online across your digital marketing should be consistent between your local franchise businesses and head office. And that’s where your company's tone of voice comes in.
With a clear set of brand voice guidelines, you’ll explain:
With so many different people and team members writing content for your company, ensuring your brand voice is retained and applied consistently is key to standing out in your franchise marketing efforts on social media.
Plus, the graphics and imagery your franchisees share on social media should align with your company’s visual identity.
That means your social brand guidelines need to spell out:
Last, but not least, is this: your franchise hashtag strategy. Your social media brand guidelines should also spell out what hashtags your franchisees should be using on each social media platform.
While hashtags can be a powerful tool to boost discoverability and reach on social media, they need to be carefully selected to ensure they’re relevant to your brand and industry.
Whether that’s branded hashtags, campaign-specific hashtags or industry hashtags, share a stack of approved hashtags that your team can plug and play in their posts with ease.
And that’s a wrap! When it comes to succeeding on social media as a franchisor, giving your team a clear social media policy will enable you to retain control over your company (even as you grow and scale). Be clear about what you do and don’t want to see from your franchise owners, have a crisis plan and give frameworks to ensure every local page aligns with your desired brand identity.
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