I recently read an article on a very hot topic, written by Frances Leary, President of Wired Flare, and posted on franchisegrade.com , the article discusses Frances' conversation with a franchisor that beleives a hands off approach to the social media of its franchisees is best. I beleive this franchisor is mistaken, and could create a whole host of problems for their franchise system.
Given the premise that franchising should produce a uniform customer and operational experience throughout the franchised system, to allow each franchisee complete control of their own social media content could create a disparate image of the system. Many franchisees are used to facebook and other similar sites to keep social awarness alive with friends and family, but creating a business image to maintains compliance with the overall experience and image of the brand is another story. The potential for posts that offend, degrade the brand, or just cast a less then professional image over the franchised system is too great to leave un-monitored by a franchisor.
Managing social media properly, in a commercial climate, is a full time job, and requires a unique skill set, which I'm confident most franchisees do not possess. There has to be a balance of local flare, yet systemwide brand awareness and marketing, that should be monitored and managed at a 30,000 foot level, not by the boots on the street.