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Integrating Social Media with Your Franchise

If you have franchised your business, you have added the responsibility of marketing for a lot more locations. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube can be a gold mine for franchises. Not only do they allow you to reach millions of people in numerous ways, they are very inexpensive ways of marketing. However, social media marketing is very fast paced and it’s very easy to get caught up in the back and forth of it all. As the franchisor, you need to take charge and provide leadership in social media and make sure your time is well-spent. Here are some steps to creating a successful social media plan for your franchise.

1. Educate yourself. The first thing you need to do is to learn about social media. If you are not well-versed in the world of social media, now is the time to get acquainted. Learn about the different platforms and decide which is best for your business. Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are good for sharing updates and interacting with customers. Multimedia sites like YouTube allow you to share information through video. Microblogging sites like Twitter gives you the opportunity to share quick tidbits of info whenever you need to. To help you decide which is best, take a look at which platforms are the most popular with your target audience, consumers and even your competitors.

2. Establish your rules. Once you have figured out what outlets you want to pursue for your franchise, you will need to come up with the guidelines for your social media policy. Your guidelines should outline the rules and restrictions your franchise owners should abide by when using social media under your business name. Some things to include are the rules that your franchisees must abide by, as well as confidentiality agreements that they must sign stating that they will not disclose private information about your business on any social networks. You should also make sure that your trademarks, logos and other intellectual property are used properly.

3. Protect yourself. While you can give your franchisees some freedom with their own social media accounts, they should not do anything to blemish the name of your business. Make sure that your policies state that posts cannot give the impression that the franchisee is posting on behalf of the entire company. Consider requiring your franchisee to post a disclaimer such as, “The posts on this account are my own, and do not represent the franchise company’s opinions, positions or strategies.”

4. Identify consequences. In the business world, there are sometimes consequences. In this case, if a franchisee should misuse their social media account or fail to abide by your guidelines, there should be a correlating consequence. Notify your franchisees about what will happen if they do violate your policies.

5. Add some flexibility. Since the social media world is always changing and evolving, reserve the right to make changes to your policy at any time. If you do plan to make some changes, seek input from your franchisees and customers. Your main goal should be to establish a relationship with your customers, and to have an open platform where you can share news and also answer any questions or concerns your customers have.

6. Monitor your franchisees. Similar to other marketing methods, your franchisees should notify you of how they intend to use their social media account. Designate someone to monitor the individual franchise accounts to ensure that they are following your guidelines.

With the popularity and effectiveness of social media marketing, your franchise can’t afford to not be on this bandwagon. But with so many locations and franchisees under your wing, it can be difficult to keep control of what’s going on around your business. By establishing a strong social media plan ahead of time, you can set the parameters in which your franchisees can utilize social media under your business name and minimize any negative situations.

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