Should A Franchisor Support A Franchisee’s Local Social Media Efforts?

Image.m4.n1Recently I met with a franchisor that is quickly growing the franchise across Canada. What I discovered about the company’s social media surprised me…not because I haven’t seen evidence of it before with other franchises but because I’ve never met a franchisor state it quite as plainly as this one did.

The franchise had a Facebook page and a Twitter profile that were relatively well-maintained. It also had a slew of Google Plus pages, none of which were optimized or being utilized.

When I opened discussions into ways they could expand the audience of their (what I assumed to be) corporate brand pages, they said they weren’t looking to grow them as representative of the entire brand because they only represented the one corporate location and not the franchise overall.


Then when I asked about the lack of franchisee pages and profiles, they said that was up to the franchisees. They didn’t care what the franchisees did with their social profiles because it was “their business.”

I was stumped…not that a franchisor hadn’t put a plan into place to support franchisee social media growth but that a franchisor actually said it wasn’t their business.

Franchisee social media not a part of the franchisor’s business? To say this is short-sighted is an understatement.

What this franchisor hasn’t come to understand (and what I did try to impress upon them during our meeting) is that every bit of franchise exposure, be it local, corporate, or lack-there-of, impacts the franchise overall and each local franchise.

The strength of the corporate brand presence impacts the franchisees, and the strength of each franchisee on social channels impacts every other franchisee and the corporate brand overall.

Why? Because social networking is both hyper-local and global at the same time, and online conversations are public and pervasive.

This franchisor took an entirely hands-off approach to franchisee social media marketing. While this may, at first glance, appear to be exactly what prospective franchisees may want, consider what this really means (given that you know you absolutely, positively must be on social media, of course):

  1. Setting up social media pages and profiles will be up to you.
  2. Designing graphics to fit properly and capture audience attention will be up to you.
  3. Getting your audience to like and follow your pages will be up to you.
  4. Developing and posting consistent, creative content will be up to you.
  5. Paying for relevant social promotions will be up to you.
  6. Providing customer service will be up to you.
  7. Responding to comments and other interaction will be up to you.
  8. Doing all this while you do everything else involved in running and growing your franchise will be up to you.
  9. And if you don’t do it, your audience may not find you and your customer base may not grow.

Now I’m not advocating that you should buy into a franchise where you have zero input regarding your social media communication…unless that is what you want. I’m simply asking that you consider the impact of having a franchisor that leaves social media entirely up to you because “it’s your business.”

As a franchisee, you are buying into a franchise because it has a duplicatable, working system that you can put into place. It’s a well-oiled machine with the training and support you need in order to implement it in your local market.

Shouldn’t there be a system for social media as well?

You decide.

Frances Leary, President Wired Flare
Wired Flare, Inc., is a Canadian online marketing firm that develops and implements Internet marketing campaigns for franchises and organizations worldwide. She is also a published author and professional speaker, whose MA in folklore led to the development of a unique marketing approach that serves as the foundation of Wired Flare’s methodology.


  1. Deena Bogan says

    Based on a recent experience of developing a “social media framework” manual for a large cosmetics company, I was stunned to find that the company’s customers had a larger presence on social media sites than the company itself! And the few sites they were on did not even mention the franchise they were planning to start. Another client (fast-casual restaurant) had a Facebook page with their 10+ restaurant locations (franchises). Some of those locations had their own FB page, but it was NOT linked to the franchisor’s primary page, and that page did not mention franchising opportunities.

    I suspect the whole realm of using social media as a franchisor, particularly in relation to the franchisees, is a new concept that isn’t being fully addressed – but certainly should be. A primary reason is to ensure that brand identity and message are consistently carried across all platforms where the franchisor has a presence. Further, once the franchisor has established the blueprint, the franchisee can then use it to advertise/promote their own franchise on local sites to attract business to their location.

  2. says

    Great points Deena & Frances – we love a good system!
    A friend of mine recommended I add a comment here to share some of our experiences and we couldn’t agree more with what each of you mention. Back in 2009, my partners & I were building websites and setting up social channels for clients and they LOVED it….but we found they had no way to keep it sustainable, let alone stay up to speed with the requirements to be effective for each channel or strategy. So as we built out our company (Business Plus One), we tested quite a few online strategies for a national franchisor. We proved out a best combination of social, local, mobile & SEM which delivered some remarkable ROI gains when you connected them all together. Our system began to take shape.

    Then we started to find all the brand & reputation management issues going on around a franchisors properties and in the social media channels. Whether it was a localization issue and not showing up in a mobile search, people saying bad things on Yelp or just asking questions on Facebook. Customers and Zees were asking so many questions around what to do, how to respond & what channels work – it was taking a huge amount of resources from corporate to support it all.

    We determined it takes a truly organized approach on the part of the ZOR and the ZEE to drive ROI and make social work as advertised. We ended up constructing our own software platform and dashboard system after testing a number of off the shelf platforms. It was key that both corporate & the Zees could understand, monitor, measure and respond correctly for each situation. (not to mention collecting all the related data for informed insights later)

    What we learned was; left on their own, the Zee will struggle to manage it and do it correctly as a sustainable practice, and the Zor may think they have it ‘all set’ but are generally not even close to making it a data & ROI driven program. In reality it’s a very complex mix of strategies, execution and channels, that when united with good data and analytics, creates an ROI driven program that should essentially pay for itself with increased sales and happy clients.

    Our big 3 metrics have become: Impressions, CPA (cost per acquisition) and Sentiment ratings. When all 3 are going in the right directions you have a good thing happening online; when they start to go awry, it’s time to get a quick look on what’s causing the problems. No matter what you do it’s a major undertaking to get it all right, keep it all moving and have everyone on your team understand the WHY behind it all. Social media is a business tool and like a franchise – it needs to be systematized, optimized and managed consistently to deliver profitable results.


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