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The social networking site Facebook is partnering with the International Franchise Association (IFA) to help franchises better connect with their customers and generate market growth. The IFA represents more than 825,000 U.S.-based franchise businesses, and IFA reps say the hope is that franchisees will reach more of the market by creating Facebook business pages and focused advertisements, and perhaps also expand their businesses by finding others interested in a franchise opportunity. The move is part of a larger plan implemented by Facebook to open its services to a wider business audience, and will also be giving out $10 million in free advertising to small businesses beginning next year. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

Facebook is teaming with the International Franchise Association to spur growth at small franchises in a challenging economy.

The trade association, representing more than 825,000 U.S.-based franchise establishments, said Friday that Facebook has become an official member, with the intent to connect "franchisors and franchisees with tools to grow their franchise systems and better connect with customers in their communities."

Franchised companies are looking to grow, which means they are looking for ways to find prospective franchisees. Additionally, they want existing franchisees to connect more effectively with local customers, IFA president and CEO Steve Caldeira says.

"As a world leader in connecting people in a trusted environment online, Facebook's involvement with the IFA will help franchise businesses drive sales and create jobs," he says in a statement.

Facebook tools such as ad targeting and local "check-in" abilities can particularly help smaller franchises acquire and engage with customers. The social media giant says it wants to hear from franchisors and franchisees about their needs and respond with lessons on how to use the social media site for growth -- a continuation of efforts announced in September.

Starting next year, Facebook will also award $10 million worth of free advertising to some 200,000 local businesses through $50 worth of ad credits each.

The company told TheStreet that as long as a business has a Facebook page and the ability to check-in they will likely get an email regarding the ad promotion.

The promotion will run through most of the first quarter.

Separately, Facebook, the Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and DirectEmployers Association on Thursday announced a partnership Thursday that will connect unemployed Americans with jobs through the use of social networks. Other private and public sector partners are to be added in the coming months, according to the DOL.

As part of the announcement, Facebook debuted a "social jobs partnership" page that highlights available training programs, educational opportunities and job search resources. The company committed to drive traffic to the page through targeted online public service announcements to users in areas withh unemployment rates.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.