More Owners are Recognizing the Need to Control their Social Media Presence

According to the latest findings from the “Local Commerce Monitor, Franchisors are increasingly becoming actively involved in the local online presence of their franchise businesses, often funding and controlling their digital marketing strategies.

The study estimated their franchisors covered, on average, 43 percent of the online presence costs of their individual businesses, for things like website development, landing pages, enhanced listings and online video.

Franchisors have a vested interest in the online ratings, reviews and customer comments about their individual franchisees, leading some franchisors to limit or filter social media used by franchisees. More than half (51 percent) of franchisees surveyed stated their franchisors are “highly involved” with the social media presence of their local franchise businesses (e.g., they require the local franchise to run public dialog with customers through the national corporate website).

Another 23 percent of franchisees said their franchisors are “somewhat involved” with their social media presence, allowing the local franchises to use social networks like Facebook, but with rules and boundaries about how active they can be and what they can say.

“The LCM findings point to a potential tug-of-war setting up over the social media presence of franchises,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “An essential characteristic of successful social media programs is authenticity, which requires candid, timely and uncensored posting.”

“At the same time, franchisors need to be highly protective of their brands, which includes their local presence. The challenge is whether social media can be used successfully by local franchises when there’s a high degree of control from the parent company. The jury is still out–this is a delicate balancing act and the roles are still being defined.”