social media polices; high swartz; employment

Franchisee’s Struggle: Creating a Viable Business When Someone Else Calls the Shots on Your Social Media Presence

Social media has changed the way we see the world. From its modest beginnings as a way to connect people, social media has grown into an ever present force that cannot be ignored.  We get the news (fake and otherwise), learn about new products,  and keep in touch through social media.  I’d imagine you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a profile on at least one form of social media.  Business are learning how to handle the nuances of social media on a daily basis.

Unlike many businesses, however, franchises face additional and unique obstacles in navigating the already challenging field of social media marketing.  Specifically, when you purchase a franchise, you are buying rights to a business that already has a unique brand.  To that end, franchisors have an understandable interest in maintaining control over what messages you can and cannot transmit to the public at large.

Social media’s ability to disperse negative news with unparalleled speed is well documented.  What might in the past have been a minor PR snafu, easily swept under the rug, may become a viral sensation that brings unwanted attention.   Accordingly, franchisors are reluctant to hand franchisees free rein over social media if that would leave the brand open to attack from careless keystrokes of a franchisee’s employees.

That being said, a franchisee also has an important interest in its own social media presence.  The ability to interact with its local market is a vital component to gaining a strong and engaged customer base.  So social media cannot be ignored when trying to grow a successful and enduring business.

Unfortunately, the franchisor’s and franchisee’s competing interests in the area of social media may limit the franchisee’s ability to use this powerful tool as he/she would like.  Fortunately, before agreeing to franchise a business there is an all important document that will provide you with the information on this topic (along with many other vital topics) that will allow you to make an informed decision prior to setting up shop.  Specifically, a good franchise agreement will contain information on who will be controlling social media sites, if the franchisee can even open accounts for their particular franchise, what policies will control any social media account that is opened, use of trademark information, how to deal with the inevitable dissatisfied customer, and much more. Understanding what the implications of this section will be as to the practical realities of running your business is crucial.

Social media may not be the section of the franchise agreement that concerns you the most, but it certainly cannot be overlooked.  To that end, as you plan to embark on exciting business venture, the importance of consulting with an skilled franchise attorney cannot be overstated.  Having someone to guide you through the process and make sure that you are paying attention to and aware of the potential issues in running your business will help to set you up for long-term success.

If you have any questions about Franchise Agreements, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or Our franchise, business and commercial law practice group at High Swartz LLP in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, provides companies throughout the area with creative solutions based on extensive experience and legal knowledge and familiarity with the courts and the business environments of The Greater Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Attorneys in our business and commercial law group work closely with members of our other practice groups to provide our business clients with comprehensive, efficient legal solutions.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

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