28 May 2015
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How Franchises Can Use Facebook Multi-Location Correctly

No matter how you look at it, Facebook is king in social media. So of course, just as you need to set up your multi-location business on places like Google+ (Google Maps), Bing, Yelp, Foursquare (and many more); you need to have a sub page on Facebook for each of your locations.

These pages, which can be created for awareness alone (if wanted, the single location never needs to post updates, it just has to exist-common among major brands), need to be created correctly and monitored closely.

Setting up a multi-location business allows your centralized office to have complete control of each location, which is good for many reasons:

  • Brand Consistency
  • Location Accuracy
  • Brand Awareness
  • Ability to Have Complete Control of the Brand Messaging
  • Ability to Delete Duplicates (created by franchisee, customer, or employee)

This is unavailable for many, but the easiest way is to work with an agency or a dedicated Facebook Account Manager.

A Study of Facebook in Franchising: Jimmy John’s

With 98% of the Jimmy John’s Locations franchised, according to the Top 200 Franchises of 2014, that means that there are nearly 1,800 locations that have independent owners. What does the company do?

It creates locations from the corporate level, of which Facebook will recommend your nearest location. Customers can check in to their nearest location.

All posts are sent from the corporate page—none from a single location. This is a centralized strategy.

This centralized strategy is great for established brands.

The only weakness in this? No one’s watching the single location reviews—only the reviews to the main page. That’s because of the main weakness of Facebook multi-location, the main page isn’t notified when a comment or review to a single location is posted.

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. (via: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2364845/how-to-manage-facebook-pages-as-a-multi-unit-brand)

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

Duplicate Pages

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

Brand Consistency

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

Brand Awareness

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

Con: None

So How Should Multi-Location Work for Your Franchise?

You always want to have a great deal of control over each single location, but how much control should you have?

This leaves you three choices:

  • Allow posting with approval from home office
  • Never allow franchisee to touch location page
  • Location has control within strict guidelines

The first option is nice for local engagement—a must-have for less established brands. However, it requires a binding social media contract from top to bottom, as well as a lot of work in your home office to moderate posts.

The second is best for established brands. You’ll never see a post from a single McDonald’s Location, but that’s completely fine. The Golden Arches will look the same in Aurora, Illinois or Aurora, Colorado.

The third is not recommended, unless you are monitoring insanely closely with an incredibly strict set of guidelines. Consider Planet Fitness’s approach. Sharing photos from the main page, but never posting anything that doesn’t follow the strict posting guidelines.

All in all, the worst two things you can do are to have one single entity for stores in multiple states or let each store run wild. One is too conservative, one too liberal. Find the happy medium and decide based on the following resources:

In coming weeks, we will discuss monitoring and management tools for the franchise marketing manager with time constraints.

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