Facebook for franchises: What is a parent-child structure?
A-Star Sports founder Sharon Basset explains how Facebook’s new structure can benefit franchisors and franchisees
Even under the umbrella of an established brand, franchisees must still make their local mark.
For new franchises, Facebook is a valuable resource for raising awareness and for established ones it offers a practical and creative means of managing relationships and driving sales.
- Build credibility
- Engage customers through content and two-way conversations
- Drive promotions forward (within Facebook’s ever-changing terms and conditions)
- Make effective links to onsite landing pages for positive conversion
- And deliver timely notices.
Done well, this can significantly contribute to customer retention and loyalty, impact positively on new developments like social search and drive relevant visitors to your site in the eyes of wider search engines.
Done badly, it can damage not only a local franchise but the brand itself.
The impact of Facebook on A-Star Sports
As a franchisor I’m increasingly aware that Facebook is where our franchisees’ customers are socially. It is the third highest source of traffic to the A-Star Sports website and the most effective social media referral platform, currently delivering 69% of the site visits generated by social media.
Twitter stands at 27% and LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and paper.li make up the rest. Thanks to its interactions with some well-known international franchise brands, however, Facebook has started to offer a structure more fitting with our kind of business. Hallelujah!
Creating a franchise parent-child profile structure
The parent-child structure offers franchisors (parents) the ability to manage their brands more effectively and franchisees (children) the benefit of wider support and consistency from their management network whilst still maintaining local admin privileges.
Essentially, franchisees’ pages are all created under a franchisor’s group account linked to Facebook’s new ‘Social Graph’ and ‘Nearby’ technology.
The main features currently include:
- Easy creation of pages, including immediate bespoke URLs
- Brand control and consistency e.g. with the cascading of cover photos and pictures
- Location tabs and full central mapping
- The management of check-in deals
- Easy cascading of nationally run promotions and deals
- Local page management per location for franchisees
- Super-admin rights and aggregated data collection across a franchise network (such as check-ins) for franchisors
There are limitations in that each page can technically represent only one geographical address, which is more akin to a retail structure. However, where franchisees are mobile and work at multiple locations within a given territory, Facebook will accept an address central to the territory. They do not intend to offer multiple locations within one page for the foreseeable future.
Sourcing an approved agency to help
As the set-up of the parent-child structure is completed directly with Facebook, you need the support of an approved agency to:
- Complete the Facebook data sheet;
- Co-ordinate the data upload and activate the locations (particularly if you are re-organising existing pages);
- Check the uploaded data for accuracy;
- Provide you with appropriate training to manage and build on the system in the future.
I sought the advice of Graeme Kerr at Organic Digital, a fellow franchisor and technical guru, and he presented me with an American company ‘Room 214’ (room214.com) that provided a full set-up service (http://facebook-parent-child.room214.com/).
With this being a new development within Facebook, there were no obvious UK agencies providing parent-child set-up. However, Room 214 offered a clear pricing structure and timeline, answered every question I had quickly and offered to resolve future parent-child related issues with Facebook within the contract. The training offered within the package was generally made up of a pdf booklet with the option to Skype or similar if required.
Costs and time
The initial set-up process can be done in a couple of weeks but the data checking can take a lot longer and is a fussy process. This is why it’s important at this stage to have agency support and a contract with them that states they’ll stick with it until the job is complete.
Room 214 tirelessly chased Facebook on my behalf and kept me in the loop every step of the way. The biggest issue was the location tabs filtering through to the parent page’s central map but this has not stopped pages functioning and increasing their reach.
Initial set-up costs for us were in the region of $500 plus a cost per location page from around $125. It’s advisable for businesses to set up when they have fewer existing pages to transfer into the parent-child structure to avoid incurring this additional cost per page. Adding brand new locations yourself once the system is established is cost-free and the instructions are simple to follow.
Building marketing on Facebook
It’s clear that customers are finding A-Star Sports more easily since transferring to the parent-child system and becoming ‘Social Graph’ and ‘Nearby’ friendly. And management from a franchisor’s perspective is most definitely easier. For the future, I’ll be recommending more in depth social media training for franchisees so they can promote with confidence via this no- or low-cost route for a comparatively high value return.
Sharon Bassett is co-founder, director and coach at A-Star Sports, a multi-sports coaching franchise for children aged 2-10 years www.a-starsports.co.uk