Franchisors, Have You Added Social Media Policies to Your OPS Manual? Part 3

When franchisees are encouraged to participate in Social Media, they should be given specific direction to guide their engagement and communications. Start by letting your franchisees know that the Internet is NOT anonymous, and that it does not forget. Many franchisees are technology savvy and will know this fact while others need to be educated. Let them know that everything written on the Web can be traced back to its author one way or another and very easily. So anything a franchisee says can be of detriment not only to their business but to the entire franchise network. In other words, the integrity of the brand can be compromised quickly when franchisees do not take their Social Media responsibility seriously. Here are some suggested guidelines you may want to include in your OPS Manual regarding Social Media participation.

General Guidelines

  • NEVER give a personal opinion that can be construed as judgmental. DO NOT talk about politics or religion. Stay away from causes. KEEP it all about the business and the type of information that adds VALUE.
  • KEEP all your communications POSITIVE.
  • NEVER engage a customer’s complaint with an argument. Say you are sorry, and as quickly as possible, contact the customer AWAY from the Social Media vehicle and handle the problem according to the franchise customer complaint guidelines.
  • Engage in conversation with customers and prospective ones. Social Media is NOT a vehicle to sell and sell; instead it exists to communicate and to build value.
  • DO use social media to send coupons and offers from time to time. But always maintain balance. That is, your communications should not be only about sending coupons or sharing offers.
  • Never share anything you wouldn’t say to all parties involved.
  • Do not post or link to any materials that are defamatory, harassing or indecent.
  • Be respectful ALWAYS!
  • Do not post any confidential or proprietary information in regards to the franchise or your clients.
  • If you are upset at the franchisor or at other franchisee talk directly with us; never use Social Media to vent your displeasure.
  • Be careful of whose and what messages you repost. Sometimes you can be judged by the company you keep.
  • Make sure that you always associate with people online the same way you do offline.
  • If a negative post or comment is found online about you, the company, or your business, do NOT counter with another negative post. Instead, publicly offer to remedy the situation through positive action. Seek help from us (the franchisor) immediately.
  • Engage in Social Media efforts for at least 15 minutes every day and no more than 1 hour per day.
  • Proactively seek connections only within your franchise marketing area and territory.
  • LISTEN, don’t just talk. Seek first to understand your contacts.
  • Be proactive, get involved and stay involved with your communities.
  • Never criticize your competitors.
  • Don’t share your disagreement with what others post or say.
  • IF you have nothing nice to say, then say NOTHING.

Facebook

(1)     Option 1 — Franchisor creates a company Facebook Fan Page. Franchisees contribute to this page OR Option 2 – Franchisor creates a company Facebook Fan Page and Franchisees create their own store/location Fan Page. Franchisor and franchisee contribute content to each other’s pages.

(2)     Franchisees must use the link to the Facebook Fan Page in all correspondence and marketing materials.

(3)     Franchisees should post comments following the above General Guidelines.

(4)     Keep the Fan Page for business contacts ONLY, personal contacts should be left for your individual page, if you have or  must have one.

 

LINKEDIN

(1)     Franchisor has a company LinkedIn Profile.

(2)     Franchisor senior management should also have a personal profile.

(3)     Franchisees should also create their individual profiles if they do not have one already.

(4)     Franchisees should choose the current experience’s company as it is listed in the company profile you created.

(5)     Franchisees should choose the proper title such as “Franchise Owner” or “Consultant” or other similar pre-approved title.

(6)     Franchisees should describe their position following the franchisor guidelines for such description.

(7)     Franchisees should be encouraged to fully participate in building a network of connections from their past relationships as well as from local potential customers. Participating in face-to-face networking events provides the opportunity to grow the network of LinkedIn contacts. Further, participation in relevant groups such as the city’s LinkedIn group of franchisees will also allow them to grow their connections.

(8)     Franchisees must use the link to their LINKEDIN profile in all correspondence and marketing materials. They should keep their profiles complete and up to date.

(9)     Franchisees must connect with franchisor’s senior management.

(10)  Franchisees should be encouraged to seek recommendations and LinkedIn endorsements from clients.

(11)   Franchisees should update their status on a weekly basis by sharing short insights about the business and what they have been up to. Examples include:

  • Has started working on a new client.
  • Has finished a major project on…..
  • Has attended the national conference.
  • Was a speaker at _____
  • Just finished reading _________ a great about _____ (keep it business)

TWITTER

(1)     Franchisor Management must have a Twitter account and follow all franchisees.

(2)     Franchisees must follow franchisor management.

(3)     Franchisor provides franchisee with an Avatar to use for Twitter which displays the company name or logo and the picture of franchisee.

(4)     Franchisor provides the Twitter background to be used by all franchisees.

(5)     Franchisees to use their own names as their Twitter Handles.

(6)     Franchisees MUST use the hash # sign with all tweets they post #_______ your company name.

(7)     Franchisees should use TweetDeck, Seesmic or similar Twitter platforms to manage their Twitter accounts. They should keep a search for _____ (company name) to follow what’s been said about the franchise and be able to alert the franchisor and/or react accordingly.

(8)     Franchisees MUST follow the general guidelines above.

(9)     Franchisees should use www.localchirps.com to actively find people to follow within their territory. Never follow more than 10 people at a time.

(10)   Listen before your speak. Get to know what people are saying. Use the search features and hear the conversation and only then join in.

(11)    Tweet company videos from the franchisor’s YouTube channel.

(12)    Tweet company blog posts.

(13)     Tweet Flickr pictures from your business or products.

(14)     Keep it business related but add your personal touch. Let people get to know you. BE POSITIVE, ALWAYS.

(15)     Always follow back unless it is a spammer or indecent follower.

(16)     Always thank people for following you.

(17)     Always thank people who Re-Tweet your tweets.

(18)     ALWAYS pause, think and rethink before pressing sending.

(19)     Check your spelling (TweetDeck checks your spelling automatically)

(20)     Re-Tweet posts from franchisor and other franchisees.

The next post in this series will provide a list of resources you can use to improve your Social Media participation.

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You are welcome to use the information on this post; all I ask is that you give credit and provide a link to this post or the blog front page. Thank you.