Facebook Parent-Child Framework: What It Is and Practical Applications for Franchisors and Multi-Location Businesses

January 31, 2013
By   Steve Buors
Category   Social Media

This is part one of a three-part series on Facebook opportunities for franchisors and businesses with multiple locations.

In July 2011 Facebook launched one of its least-understood and yet most powerful tools for organizations that have multiple locations. Called simply the “Parent-Child” framework, the approach is exactly what the name implies – companies with five or more locations can connect their local / regional Facebook pages (the “Children”) to their corporate Facebook page (the “Parent”).

Unfortunately, there is little information available on how to implement or utilize this powerful framework. In many cases the information that is available was created prior to Facebook’s pages redesign, making it less relevant.  Having recently implemented the Parent-Child framework ourselves on behalf of clients, we thought we’d share its benefits and drawbacks, plus explain how to go about it and why it’s a must for any company with multiple locations.

Benefits

There are several very strong benefits for businesses that implement the Parent-Child framework:

  • Easy creation of Facebook pages for all your locations. There’s no need to go to the time and effort to manually set up an individual Facebook page for each location; you simply submit information for each store (as outlined in the “implementation” section, below) directly to Facebook and they automatically create pages for all of your “Children.” This saves a great deal of time, particularly if you have many locations.
  • Ability to cascade creative to all Children. This is a tremendous benefit because it enables companies to ensure consistent branding across all pages through the use of high-quality creative for both cover photos and profile pictures. If you are a business with multiple locations, undoubtedly you have struggled to maintain consistent branding and quality. But what often happens is that the local store manager sets up their Facebook page and they either do not know your brand style guide or do not have access to appropriate graphics. The end result: a mish-mash of logos with varying color schemes, cropping issues, and/or creative that violates Facebook’s terms and conditions.
  • Built-in map and store finder. Facebook automatically creates a map tab on the parent page that includes all your locations and allows people to perform a free-form search using parameters such as city name, postal code, neighbourhood and many more. The search is actually quite powerful – you can even search terms like “downtown Toronto” and receive relevant results.
facebook-parent-child

 

  • Aggregation of check-ins. When the Children pages are hooked up to the Parent, check-ins from across all stores are counted on the Parent page. This is a handy way to reflect the scale of the company and demonstrate an active customer base.
  • Ability to create custom deals across all pages. The Parent is able to create national or regional check-in deals and cascade them out to the Child pages for ease of implementation across a large number of locations. Deals are a very handy way to create customer incentives to encourage people in your store to complete a purchase, or to attract new foot traffic to your locations. A particularly nice feature is that this in no way interferes with the ability for Child page administrators to create their own local deals.

  • Super-admin rights across all pages. The administrator for the Parent page also has administrative rights for all Child pages. This is invaluable for Franchisors, as it is often the case that usernames and passwords for independent local pages are misplaced by local franchisees, particularly when the franchise is sold. With the Parent-Child framework, adding and removing local admins is extremely easy. In addition, if an issue emerges with a Child page (such as inappropriate posts/photos), the Parent admin can act quickly to rectify the issue. As with check-in deals, the ability for the Parent to interact with the page in no way interferes with the Child administrator’s ability to post content or engage their local audience.

facebook parent child(Source: Facebook)


Drawbacks

These above benefits are fantastic, but not all of the business’ issues are automatically solved, of course: 

  • Although the number of check-ins is aggregated up to the Parent page, the number of likes is not (despite initial rumors to the contrary). This is unfortunate, as it would be ideal to show the scale of the network through an aggregated like number.
  • As a super-admin, the corporate community manager is able to access Facebook Insights for the Parent page and each Child page, which is very helpful in monitoring results of campaigns and other efforts. The issue is that they need to do so individually – meaning that the information is not compiled in an easy-to-access fashion. The community manager needs to go page-by-page to view the metrics for each location. This is not too difficult if you only have a handful of pages, but can be laborious if you have hundreds.
  • The super-admin is able to access all pages and create posts on behalf of the Children. This is particularly handy if there is a national promotion / message or if local teams are unable to manage their Facebook presence due to lack of staffing or expertise. However, the downside is that there is no easy way for the Parent admin to cascade posts to multiple pages – meaning that the community manager needs to go to each page individually to create each post. Again, this is not overly daunting if there are only a few local pages, but can be an impossible task if there are hundreds.
  • Though the super-admin has access to all local pages, they will only be able to set up notifications for the national page, and won’t be alerted any time a person comments/posts on a local page. Therefore, they’ll have to go to each page to see recent activity, which can be overwhelming if there are hundreds of pages.

Despite these drawbacks, the benefits absolutely outweigh the issues. And the good news is that there are solutions to these drawbacks, which will be discussed in part 3 of this series.

Implementation

Set up of the Parent-Child framework is completed through close coordination directly with Facebook. This takes quite a bit of effort on Facebook’s part, so understandably they don’t do it for just anybody. The best way to go about setting up the framework is to work through an agency that has done the implementation before and has a relationship with Facebook so they can take care of all the details. (Get more information about the set up process here.)

Information you will need to complete the setup:

  • ID for your corporate (“Parent”) Facebook page. If you do not have a corporate page, set one up ahead of time.
  • Store ID, name, address hours of operation, phone number, vanity name and description for all your locations. You will also need the latitude and longitude for each location. A simple data table format (such as MS Excel) is perfect.
  • IDs for any existing location pages that you want to make Children of your Parent page. Yes, that’s right – you can connect pre-existing pages to your corporate page!

facebook-parent-child

With this information in hand, your agency can work with Facebook to handle the setup. It is quite a bit of work, so expect at least 2-4 weeks before completion.

Why do it?

At this point you may be thinking – yes, those are absolutely some terrific benefits and with the right agency partner this doesn’t sound all that hard, but do I really need to have Facebook pages for all of my locations?

The answer is an emphatic YES! If you are a franchisor with multiple franchisees or a company that has more than 5 locations, you absolutely, positively need to have an engaging, regularly updated Facebook page for every location. Now, having said that – it is not critical that you do so via the Parent-Child framework, but you absolutely should ensure each geographic location has an individual page.

That of course begs the question: why, exactly? There are several compelling reasons:

  1. A local presence encourages customer retention and loyalty. No matter how strong a corporate page is, it can never be all things to all people. Local pages can connect more effectively with their direct customers through localized posts (including text, photos, video), community news and unique offers. There is no replacement for authentic local engagement for customer retention loyalty.
  2. You need to have a physical address for check-ins. If you don’t have a local Facebook page customers cannot “check-in” to your business. Although only a small subset of your customers are inclined to check-in, it can be a powerful tool to encourage customer loyalty and offer incentives such as Facebook deals. Beyond deals, one of the major goals behind encouraging check-ins is to reach friends of existing customers – every time a customer checks in to your business, their friends could potentially see your brand associated with a positive experience for one of their friends, leading to a natural “halo effect”. This is an important social media objective which merits a discussion unto itself, but we’ll save that for another time.
  3. Facebook Nearby. I’ll expand more on this topic in part 2 of this series, so I will be brief here. The main thing to know is that “Nearby” is built into Facebook’s mobile app, which was the #1 downloaded app for both Apple and Android in 2012. According to comScore, “In addition to owning the top app audience ranking, Facebook has consistently ranked #1 in terms of mobile app engagement. Their app currently accounts for 23% of time spent on apps”. With this level of mobile dominance, this app (and its newly expanded “Nearby” functionality) simply cannot be ignored.
  4. Social search. There has been quite a bit of discussion about Facebook’s new Graph Search, which was announced on January 15, 2013 and is currently in beta. If you manage a business you should spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with this new functionality, as it will have major ramifications on how people find your brand in the future. In a nutshell, Facebook is allowing people to perform “social searches” on the publicly available information contained within Facebook. This means people can perform searches such as:

“What restaurants have my friends liked?”
“What products are my friends fans of?”
“What is the most visited retailer in my neighbourhood?”

facebook-parent-child

This is a very different search experience than Google, and is specific to Facebook (with Bing integration). So what does this mean for businesses? It means that if you do not have a local Facebook page with a specific address and local fans, you will not show up in peoples’ social searches. That might not mean much today while Graph Search is still in its infancy, but what about a year from now? As an example, could you imagine the impact to your business if you were not showing up in Google search results?

There is little question that social search is going to grow in importance in the very near future, so businesses should be thinking ahead to ensure customers can find them quickly and easily. The best way to ensure you have a presence is to create a specific Facebook page for every location you have, ensure it is populated with useful information and encourage customer activity (comments, likes, check-ins).

As social media, and particularly social search, continues to evolve, a local social presence will become a must-have for all businesses – just as a website is today. Parent-Child is a quick, cost-effective way for companies with multiple locations to set up and manage Facebook pages for each of their properties and leapfrog their competition. The question isn’t “Why would you make the leap?”, rather it’s “Why wouldn’t you?”

Today: Facebook Parent–Child Framework: What it is and Practical Applications for Franchisors and Multi-Location Businesses
Part 2: How To Translate National Brand Strength to Local Facebook Pages
Part 3: How Franchises and Other Multi-Location Businesses Can Effectively and Easily Manage Facebook’s Parent-Child Framework

To learn more about implementing Facebook Parent-Child for your multi-location business, email info@reshiftmedia.com

TAGS

Facebook Facebook Nearby Facebook parent child franchise owners franchisees franchises social media

WRITTEN BY

Steve Buors

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Comments (56)

  1. Hi There – We received a message from MOZ, suggesting that our switch to the Facebook Locations Framework is going to be detrimental to our Local SEO (since the local page names are being pulled into Google as the brand name without the local descriptor). In your experience, does this negatively affect local page rank? Are there any suggestions on how we can combat this?

  2. Thanks Jen,

    To transfer child pages from one parent to another (say from social media company to social media company), would the original parent social media company need to delete all the children from their parent first?

  3. Hi there. Can there be two parents to child pages? And if you transfer the child pages from one parent to another does this necessarily create duplicate pages?

    1. Hi Sue,

      You can only have a child page connected to one parent page. Moving child pages from one parent to another will not cause duplications.

      Thanks,
      Jen

  4. Hello, can a location (child) page become a main page?
    for exemple i have few coffee shops and i sell one of them to another person.
    can this person take control on this location page and make it an independant one? So He can keep the all likes and comment. but it is no more part of my business.

  5. Hi Jen – Thanks for providing so much great information on Facebook Business Manager. I’m afraid I’m stumped by all this. I recently changed my Facebook set up so I have 1 brand page (the page previously served as the location page for ALL my NY stores). I was able to start adding Location pages to this new brand page, however I noticed that the reviews are still showing on the brand page. Something just doesn’t seem right. Any advice?

      1. How can I keep the reviews for that specific location? I tried to start a new page for the parent but Facebook would not give me location settings for this new page. My plan was to start a new Facebook page for the corp account (parent) then add the existing pages over to the parent page.

        1. That’s exactly what you should do — start a new page and use the new one as your parent page. I’m not sure what you me by “Facebook would not give me location settings for this new page.” Any page that doesn’t have a street address associated with it can be turned into a parent page.

          Jen

    1. If you delete the parent location, you should first remove all of your child pages from the framework. To do this, go to Settings, Locations on your main page, click on the pencil icon next to each child page listing, and click “remove location” at the bottom of the pop up.

  6. I have 5 locations, but only post on the parent page. Can the guests that like a single location see the post in their feed from the parent page?

  7. Hi Steve thank you for your great explanation. Our growing company in Ecuador owns 5 coffee shops in different cities with the intention of opening 6 more by the end of this year, so definitely the Facebook Locations framework feature suits best for our needs. We want to implement this with your help and assistance.

    My questions:
    1.) Can we start with 5 stores and once this feature is implemented adding manually each new store by our own? or we need to start with 10?
    2.) Who can give me information about the cost of this service?

    Thanks,
    Maurizio

    1. Hi Maurizio

      Apologies for the delay in responding – I had not seen your comment. (1) You can start with 5 if you like, but we generally recommend 10 as a good starting point. (2) Please feel free to contact Kirk Allen on our team at kallen@reshiftmedia.com.

  8. Tim, I’m working with a fitness studio with two locations. I’ve done a parent-child integration with a 20+ unit company, but not one this small. We do get check-ins and reviews, but our clientele is crosses over, so it does not make sense to have two pages. Can you do a parent-child with just tow locations? And if so, do you just monitor those locations and use them as places to check in and provide info or do you also post? Seems that would then create three pages. I’m trying to streamline our channels, but be accessible.

    Thanks,

    BK

    1. Hi,

      We don’t recommend implementing the Locations framework for less than 10 pages.

      Thanks,
      Jen

  9. How I can activate Parent-Child feature? What type of “3rd party agency” would be need to set this up? This setup is forever or have a month cost? I’m admin of a FB Page with 2 locations.

    1. Hi Jose

      Yes, Parent-Child (i.e. Locations) still works. We’ve just done several setups and have a few more we’re working on. We coordinate directly with Facebook on setup so unfortunately can’t speak to any broken links you may be accessing. If you require further assistance please feel free to email me at sbuors@reshiftmedia.com.

  10. Thanks for your insight here Steve. I came across a FB page that had a Bing location map and told me where the closest locations of that establishment to me where. I thought this was great and wanted to replicate it. We are a franchisor with more than 5 locations & have given permission to our franchisees to create their own pages. Some have done it, some not. So I want to take those that have and make them ‘child’ accounts so I can replicate that Bing Map. I have a couple of questions I’m hoping for some help on. 1) Do I need the franchisees login to make those pages my ‘child’ or when contacting Facebook they will just take them for me? 2) Once I’ve made those pages a ‘child’, can the franchisee have access to their page and only their page? I’d prefer to not have to be responsible for posting on every single page. Appreciate your time Steve! Tim, from Australia

    1. Hi Tim

      If you can be made an admin on each of the local pages then that is the easier route to go, however, if that is not feasible then it is possible to still attach the local pages to your corporate page via the Locations (i.e. Parent-Child) setup process. So either way works.

      And yes, after the Locations framework is set up your franchisee can continue to have complete access to their page to post, comment, etc. They will have access to the page(s) they are an admin of only – so if each franchisee is an admin on their own page then they will only have access to that specific page.

      Hope that helps!

  11. Thanks a lot Steve!
    I can’t remove it from Global Pages. The names are practically the same (only the vanity URLs are different).
    But indeed, I assumed as well that the pages are connected globally. We’re probably going to try the contact indicated by Jen in the related article.
    I want to thank you very much for the help! This is one of the few blogs where I was actually able to find something relevant for my cases.

  12. Hello Steve! I did read your article on the matter but I can’t say it helps. I get an error on Step 3(Page unavailable) .

    I have also checked out the comment section, especially this one: http://www.reshiftmedia.com/merge-facebook-pages/#comment-1131
    Looking deeper, I realize that I have country pages, which I assume are similar/the same as the parent-child ones.

    I can only choose to edit countries in each of my Country Pages (no “remove locations” option like in Jen’s comment I indicated earlier).

    I’m now confused whether I should try to merge a Country page with another one(which I am now unable to do because of the error), or if I should just edit the Countries.

    My aim is to migrate the fans & be able to deliver content into their newsfeeds from another country (another child page) .

    Any advice/explanation would be much appreciated. I can also address my questions on the other blog post l but it dawned on me that this would be more appropriate.

    1. Ah, I see. Hard to say exactly how to resolve the issue without seeing it first hand, but I suspect it could be due to the fact that the two pages are connected via the Global Pages functionality. Remember that the whole idea of Global Pages is to segregate your audience by country, so merging two of those pages runs counter to that. It may be that you need to remove the page from Global Pages before attempting to merge it with the other.

      It could also be that the names of the two pages are too dissimilar. Facebook requires the pages be named very similarly to conduct a merge.

      Again, hard to say for sure without seeing the issue. I hope that helps!

  13. Hello Steve,
    I have a parent-child framework based on different countries for my brand.

    One of my locations is shutting down, so I’d need to merge the fans from this child page to another one, close by.

    I am an admin on all pages, and I went into the page settings of the child page I want to merge it with. However, when I click “Merge duplicate pages”, I get a “page unavailable” error.

    Any suggestions? I’d really appreciate it. I’m pretty much stuck at this point.

    1. Hi Andrew

      If you are an admin on each page you can set up an email notification via Facebook, so you should be able to use your inbox to aggregate alerts. The only danger to this approach is that a local admin could inadvertently remove you from a local page and you’d then lose the notifications.

  14. Do you know what happens with direct messages to a child page? Will they roll up to the parent page as a notification or message?

    1. Hi Andrew

      No, direct message to child pages do not roll up to the parent page. If you would like to see all of the direct messages your only option is to make yourself an admin on all of the local pages directly. Typically we advise clients to disable direct messages on local pages for precisely this reason.

      Hope that helps!

  15. Hi all, any recommendation for stores with 2 locations? As Gary, we only have 2 locations and would like them to appear on the map. We don’t wish to have 2 separate pages though, one is sufficient. We just wish to enter 2 addresses in the ‘about’ section. Is that possible or is there an alternative solution? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Mathilde

      Unfortunately one Facebook page cannot have two addresses. Yes, you can put the second address in the “about” section if you like, but that address is included only as raw text – it does not add a second location to your page for check-ins or other geographic-specific activities. If check-ins and geo-location are not high on your priority list then this is likely your best course of action.

      However, if you would like to have two addresses in Facebook for your two pages, the only way to do so is to create two distinct Facebook pages. This allows for location-specific metrics, check-ins, and increased exposure in geo-based searches (see: http://www.reshiftmedia.com/how-to-translate-national-brand-strength-into-local-facebook-success-2/)

      Note that this is the same case for Locations (Parent-Child). If a company has 100 locations, they need to set up 100 Facebook pages and then network them together via the Locations framework. This allows a national admin to manage hundreds or thousands of pages as if they were one page, while also creating a strong local footprint within Facebook.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Hi, thanks for the reply. I need to add the location to My 126 with restaurant business. Facebook does not allow it. I can only add 100 locations. What do you suggest? Thank you in advance.

        1. Hi Okan

          There is no specific requirement to add only a certain number of pages, You should be able to add 126 locations without issue. If you require further assistance, please feel free to contact Kirk Allen on our team at kallen@reshiftmedia.com

    1. Hi Gary,

      We recommend parent-child for stores with 10 or more locations.

      Take care,
      Jen

  16. Hi Steve,
    Question: If I remove a child location page will the likes from that page be transferred to the parent page?
    Facebook should hire you to explain how their products work, you are amazing!

    1. Hi Donna

      First off, thanks! Making me blush over here.

      In answer to your question, unfortunately no, the likes will not roll up to the corporate page. The likes for that individual child page are attached to that page only, so if you delete the page those likes are gone. As a general rule, we typically avoid deleting pages for this reason and normally instead choose to “unpublish” them so at least the data is preserved.

      However, as another option you could look to merge that page with another child page. This would pull those likes in and add them to the existing page’s total. This makes sense to do if there is another nearby location that fans of the old page might find useful. Unfortunately you cannot merge the child page into the corporate page.

      Hope that helps, and happy to clarify if anything is unclear. I can be reached directly at sbuors@reshiftmedia.com

      Thanks
      Steve

  17. I too would like this type of functionality. What type of “3rd party agency” would be need to set this up? Why would I need that agency to do it? Do you know an agency that does it?

  18. Thanks for the quick response… is it something that CAN’T be done without using an agency though? Does Facebook only work with agencies on this?

  19. I would like to set this up, but can’t find any information on how to do it, or who to contact. Is this possible to set up on my own? Do I have to use a third party agency?

  20. Hi Ryan

    100% agree that local is becoming more and more important in social media (in fact, that is the topic of post #2 in this series). I don’t know if the method for implementation is going to change or not. It is a lot of work for Facebook to tie all of the pages together, so understandably they rely on agencies to help manage the process. We’ve only done this in North America so I can’t speak to how to go about it for China. Perhaps country pages are something for you to be thinking about though? Not a solution for local, but the functionality is quite slick for pages with multiple countries.

    Steve

  21. We know that when Graph Search comes into play the Parent/Child feature will become hugely important to maintain those local contact points with customers, but is its method of implementation going to change? Does every brand need to go through an agency to achieve this, or will they simplify the process? And what of those companies outside the US – we maintain a brand page with 10 separate real world locations, there are no SIC codes in Taiwan, and the Facebook/Bing combo is less than helpful when it comes to Chinese addresses.

    1. I work in digital marketing for a UK based business with over 900 locations in the UK, we are currently implementing the framework through a UK agency however Facebook support in the UK & Ireland isn’t the best or most accessible – so this has been a task for us to do. We work with multiple agencies who each handle various aspects of our digital brand – all our agencies have very respectable portfolios, so I was surprised when only one of them came up trumps and actually even knew what I was on about when I was looking to implement this – it isn’t a widely known feature here, which is surprising, and a shame.

      1. Hi Danny,

        Yes, we’re surprised the framework isn’t as well known as it should be since it’s such an effective way to knit together all of your pages, especially for franchise businesses. We even ended up building software to help manage the pages, as we couldn’t find any readily available: http://www.reshiftmedia.com/social-brand-amplifier/

        Take care,
        Jen