Email has evolved into the main mode of business communications, and social media has largely replaced the efforts previously done through print advertising. With that said, these electronic forms of communication will only continue to increase in both usage and importance in the future. Consequently, franchisors must account for how they will control, and to what extent, these marketing tools for franchisees.
Franchisors may establish email addresses for each of their franchisees or encourage each franchisee to utilize social media to reinforce brand awareness and increase engagement. While these tools can be used in a positive way to generate new business for the brand, franchisors must remember that any misconduct by a franchisee using these mediums, can make the franhcisor liable. To minimize risks and liability regarding email and social media, franchisors should consider:
- Using a separate domain name for issuing email address to franchisees.
- Establishing email and social media guidelines in either the Operations Manual or in a written policy. This disclosure must address each party’s rights and responsibilities when it comes to managing these accounts and any content that is generated under each account.
- Determining whether written authorization is needed to access franchisee accounts, based on franchisor’s electronic communications policy, and establishing what grounds are necessary for the franchisor to access said accounts.
- Requiring franchisees to maintain separate business and personal social media accounts and refraining from posting any content related to the brand or business on their personal accounts.
- Notifying franchisees that all accounts are to be maintained by them or their staff; the franchisor is not responsible for monitoring these accounts.
- Retaining administrative privileges over franchisee accounts in order to minimize risk in the event of a dispute or litigation.
- Requiring all franchisees to disclose that their business operates independently and any references to the franchise brand, does not change their independent operator status.
Would you like to learn more about establishing email and social media protocol for your franchisees? Reach out to me today to schedule a consultation.