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.
What is the purpose of a 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:
- What social media channels (from Facebook pages to Instagram profiles) the franchise and franchisees will be using
- Who has ownership of the types of content created and shared on social media
- How franchisors and franchisees can use social media
- Standardised requirements for account naming conventions and more
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.
Why should franchisors create a social media policy?
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:
- Protecting the company from legal and compliance breaches and lowering the chance of big, costly fines or lawsuits due to bad employee behaviour on social media.
- Preventing a PR crisis and ensuring everyone in your company is aware of the answer to this question: “what are the consequences of violating a social media policy?”.
- Clarify roles and responsibilities when it comes to who creates, approves, shares and moderates your company’s social media content.
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.
What is the difference between a social media policy and social media brand guidelines for franchisees?
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:
- Your approved brand logos and how to use them in a range of formats (from Instagram Stories to Reels to static graphics.
- Your brand colours and fonts and how to use them appropriately.
- Your desired tone of voice and instructions for how to achieve this (usually through examples and writer’s rules).
Plus, your social media brand guidelines may go one step further to spell out:
- Approved naming conventions for your franchisees’ social media accounts.
- A list of branded hashtags to add to your social media posts.
- Guidelines around how to craft a branded social media bio and more.
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.
7 things to include in a franchisor’s social media policy
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.
1. The scope of approved social networks for your franchisees
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:
- Are you looking to recruit new franchise owners or team members?
- Are you wanting to boost brand awareness and break into new markets?
- Is driving potential customers into your local stores a big priority?
- What about having an engaging platform to promote your upcoming events and offers?
Now, it’s time to match your social media goals with the right social media channels:
- For recruitment and expanding your franchisee network: try LinkedIn
- For promoting your latest products, offers and events: try Facebook
- For connecting and engaging with local residents: try Instagram
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.
2. A clear list of naming conventions for every franchisee
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:
- @[Franchise Name]_[Suburb Name]
- @[Franchise Name].[Suburb Name]
- @Franchise Name][Suburb Name]
3. Guidelines for remaining compliant with social media regulations and terms
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.
4. Outlines of who owns domain accounts and social media content
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.
5. Content review and approval workflows
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:
- Who is responsible for creating images and graphics for each franchise location
- Who will be writing the captions for your social media posts at each franchise business
- Who is responsible for reviewing and providing feedback on the content before it goes live
- Who is publishing and moderating your social media content at each franchise business
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.
6. Plan of action in a security or public relations crisis
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 contact details of every critical team member who needs to be contacted in the event of a security breach or PR crisis
- A framework for identifying the extent of the problem (and the best course of action)
- A plan of action for how to communicate this problem internally
- A plan of how to respond to this issue publicly
The more thorough your planning is now, the easier it will be to navigate through these crisis points if they come up.
What should franchisors include in their social media brand guidelines for franchisees?
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.
Tone of voice 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:
- How formal or casual your brand voice should be
- What words and phrases are approved and on-brand
- What characteristics best describe your brand voice
- Examples of how to achieve your desired tone of voice on social media
- Key brand messaging points to hit on in your social media content
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:
- What colours and fonts to use in social media graphics
- How to apply your logo consistently throughout your content
- What style of photography is on-brand vs. off-brand
- What filters or editing techniques should be used on your imagery
Approved hashtags lists
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.