Facebook’s “Locations” App Lets Corporate Pages Display a Store Finder and Links to Their Local Branch Pages

In mid-July, Facebook confirmed to us that it began testing a new Parent-Child Page management system for business with a corporate / local structure — those with a central brand Page as well as Pages for each individual branch or franchise. The limited private beta program’s first public facing component is now live, with Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters now showing a new Facebook-developed Page tab app called Locations.

The new app allows parent corporations Pages to display a map of nearby branch locations and links to their individual Pages. The app should help corporate Pages drive more Likes and foot traffic to their local branches, and could replace the “store finder” tab app found on most corporate websites.

Prior to the the start of the Parent-Child Page management system, it was very difficult for corporations to manage a hierarchy of Pages. A single person had to be added as the admin of every Page, and multiple Pages could be posted to, have apps installed, or have settings changed simultaneously. It was therefore very difficult to coordinate large scale cross-Page marketing campaigns, such as offering a coupon on the Facebook Page of every McDonald’s restaurant.

First, a third-party tool called Hearsay Social launched to address the corporate / local problem. Over the last few months, though, that company worked with Facebook to create a native Parent-Child Page management system, complete with APIs and a basic graphic user interface. Now the initial tests of the system by a select few corporations are launching for public use.

The Regal Entertainment Group Page now uses the Locations tab to show a map of all its movie theaters and links to their Pages. The map, powered by Bing, defaults to a tight radius around your current coordinates, but lets users search any address to pull up nearby locations represented by child Pages and the faces of friends who’ve checked in there. These child Pages now feature a link back to the parent Page, facilitating cross-Page promotion.

The Locations app also turns corporate Pages into a portal for local branches. Users can simply visit the corporate Page to find links to a nearby instance of the business or organization, rather than leaving Facebook to use a store finder on a client’s website. Once access to the Parent-Child system and Locations is rolled out, it could significantly increase Facebook’s utility as a sort of Yellow Pages with social recommendations.

[Thanks to Kevin Evanetski for the tip]

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