NB: There is now an updated version of this article published in August 2016: How to manage Facebook pages for a multi-location business.
For franchise and multi-unit businesses, managing data and pages on Facebook can be a nightmare. Rogue pages, unseen customer complaints, and inaccurate data are just some of the challenges these businesses face every day. For those particular brands with multiple locations throughout the United States and the world, Facebook offers a feature that links the main brand page to all local pages, and helps maintain consistency across all locations. The feature is called “Facebook Locations” and is often referred to as the parent-child integration, with the main brand page being the parent, and the locations being the children.
Whether you want to believe it or not, local pages exist. “Out of sight, out of mind” isn’t an acceptable philosophy in this situation. Local pages can be created by users trying to check in or by Facebook pulling data from various other sources around the Web (e.g., Yelp listings). By taking stock of what’s out there, claiming pages, and cleaning up duplicates you can protect the integrity of your business’ reputation and data, and create a more efficient process for managing pages moving forward.
How It Works
The Facebook parent-child integration is quite straightforward at its core, but there are several nuances with regards to how the pages function, how they can be managed, and how users can interact with the content available on each one. At the baseline level, these are the main aspects at play when you create the parent-child relationship:
- Creates and/or claims Facebook Places venues to increase accuracy and visibility online and on mobile devices
- Creates parent/child hierarchy to link corporate account with local pages; links existing local pages and creates new ones where necessary
- Local owners/staff maintain their admin status of each page, if applicable
- Corporate also receives admin access, and shares with local owners/staff
Type of Pages
There are two types of pages involved in the parent-child process: new pages and existing pages.
If a location does not yet have a Facebook page, the parent-child process will create a Place page for that location, utilizing the following data:
- Business name
- Street address
- City, State, ZIP Code
- Vanity URL (e.g., www.facebook.com/StarbucksDenverCO)
- Profile and cover image – same as the parent page; updates automatically when updated on parent page
By default, users are able to Like the page, add a rating, leave a comment, or write a review.
The parent page will show corresponding child Place pages through a “Locations” tab, allowing users to search for stores directly on Facebook and find their nearby locations. See image below for an example of the parent page with Locations tab.
If an owner or staff member actively manages Facebook for their location, they will not notice any difference nor, will their fans. That owner or staff member continues to maintain admin control of the page, and all information (business data, profile and cover image, tabs, etc.) remains the same – the parent page does not override it. Anyone who is an admin of the parent page will also become an admin of the child page, giving them full authority over editing or deleting the page, adding other admins, and managing posts and user comments.
The only changes that occur happen on the backend:
- The child page will be linked to the parent page
- Corporate will be added to the list of admins
- The category will change to “local business,” if it was previously categorized otherwise, turning it into a “Place page,” and thus allowing users to more easily find it on their mobile devices
Pros and Cons of Parent-Child
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to undergoing this process. I believe the positives outweigh the negatives; however, it’s important to understand all aspects of the process before embarking on this endeavor.
Accuracy of Location Data
Pro: Increased accuracy of location data; monthly updates to ensure ongoing accuracy
Con: Existing place pages do not receive name, address, phone (NAP) data updates
Pro: Remove duplicates for better user experience with check-ins
Con: Users can still create new pages, even if one already exists, so clean up is ongoing
Pro: Cover/profile images are automatically updated on all new place pages
Con: If a local owner claims a place page, it no longer automatically updates the cover and profile images from the parent page
Managing Numerous Pages
Pro: All admins of parent page become admins of place pages; more efficient process for adding or removing admins with staff changes; easier access to all place pages for identifying new comments and viewing insights on an individual basis
Con: Posts from parent page are not published on child pages; no notifications of new likes, comments, reviews on place pages; insights for all places pages are not shown in parent page insights
Pro: Improved accuracy means improved visibility on desktops and mobile devices; total number of check-ins across all child pages is shown on parent page
For brands with locations around the world, the process is slightly different. Facebook offers another feature, called Facebook Global Pages, for those that qualify. Essentially, these pages are the grandparents in the Facebook family.
Facebook Global Pages allow that brand to maintain a consistent experience and audience on a global scale, while offering personalized content based on the user’s country or region. Global pages bring together all audience insights into one interface, and allow you to use one URL to promote your Facebook page. The user, however, is automatically redirected to the most appropriate for them based on their location, so they won’t notice any differences.
Starbucks has a Global Page, with several Country Pages. Starbucks’ Thailand and Canada Country Pages are shown here.
While there are several advantages to Global Pages, there is one major disadvantage – child pages will not automatically update the cover image or profile image from the global page. This means that any new place pages created after the parent page has become a global page, pages that are associated with the global page and not a specific country page, will not pull through the same images. To maintain this connection and automatically pull through images, you should create a parent page for each country you have locations in, then implement parent-child for all locations within that country.
To implement parent-child, you must work directly with a Facebook representative. The process can take anywhere from 48 hours to, in my experience, up to two months, depending on how organized your data is and how quickly Facebook is able or willing to create pages. Once you submit data to Facebook, you are really at the mercy of their timeline.
Patience is essential when going through the process for this reason, and due the constantly changing nature of Facebook overall. Anyone who works on Facebook frequently can commiserate – they have a habit of making tweaks and encounter glitches that change the functionality of pages, and oftentimes, won’t announce or acknowledge these changes to the very folks administering them for brands and others alike.
Have you undergone the Facebook parent-child process? What has your experience been with managing this relationship and the multiple child pages?
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