Tough Decisions: To Go or Not To Go Global on Facebook?
By: Jordan Enright-Schulz, Strategist
The question of whether to centralize a brand’s Facebook presence through one global Page or maintain regional Facebook Pages is one our clients ask us frequently. High-profile brands fall into both camps, so it is understandably a challenge for our clients to figure out what makes the most sense for them. Starbucks is often cited as an exemplary brand maintaining a robust regional Page presence. On the other hand, Lenovo recently announced to the fans of its global Facebook Page that it has begun to collapse its regional Pages into its global Page; Heineken did the same thing last year.
While we believe consolidating a brand’s Facebook presence into one strong global Page offers many benefits, our initial answer to clients is still always: It depends. We work with our customers to examine some key factors that should help inform this decision:
1. Is your brand perceived differently in different countries to a significant extent?
McDonald’s is a good example of a brand that would likely answer no to this question, so it makes sense that the brand has decided customers would be more likely to Like and identify with a global Facebook brand Page than, say, McDonald’s France. This is often true for large global brands. If, however, you feel that customers strongly identify with the local iteration of your brand, regional Pages may make more sense. A good example of this is hotel property Pages.
2. Is customer service the primary purpose/focus of your brand’s Facebook presence?
If so, and if your brand’s customer service presence is country– or region-based, discrepancies in customer service response time and infrastructure may create challenges on a global wall where customers from different countries are routinely posting customer service complaints. Possible cultural mismatches in wall conversations involving multiple languages can also present challenges.
Social media management platforms such as Context Optional’s Social Marketing Suite offer the ability to escalate customer service questions to the correct global team in real time, and implementing a dedicated Customer Service tab on a global Page is another option. However, we do have some clients who have decided regional Pages make more sense based on their global customer service infrastructure.
3. If your brand currently maintains regional Facebook Pages, how do those fan bases compare to the number of international fans on your global Page?
For example, one of our clients recently discovered that the number of Indian fans (one of its most significant international customer bases) on its global Facebook Page far outweighed the number of fans on its India regional Page, which contributed to their ultimate decision to consolidate their presence into one global Page.
It’s also important to fully understand Facebook’s robust geo-targeting capabilities, which allow a brand to do the following from one central Page:
- Choose to post widely relevant wall content to the entire Page audience, or granularly geo-target wall posts by country, state, city, and/or language
- Geo-target tabs and Page applications by country to ensure that specific geographies are shown region-specific promotions (Note that offering robust geo-targeting solutions to brand marketers is a priority for Facebook, and it is generally expected that the social network will soon offer more granular application targeting abilities to match the specificity possible with wall posts.)
Several social media management tools like Context Optional’s leverage Facebook’s full geo-targeting capabilities. The Social Marketing Suite’s robust workflow and permissions structure also allows brands to assign region-based marketing managers access to specific geographic audiences within one Facebook Page, ensuring that the correct in-market brand managers communicate with the correct audience for marketing and the correct individuals for customer service. For example, our permissions could allow a German brand manager to only post content to German fans on a brand’s global Page.
The benefits of a global Facebook page that we have seen for our clients include:
- Customers know which brand Page to Like through the elimination of multiple brand page clutter in Facebook search.
- A single, active Facebook Page benefits organic search results.
- Since there is no competition with other brand Pages, a centralized Facebook presence serves as a powerful communication/distribution channel and effectively connects all fans.
- Cross-channel promotion is simplified through a single URL for advertising purposes.
- Money spent on social media reinforces a central brand Page rather than being distributed across Pages (and fans).
- Large fan bases create an organic snowball effect, leading to higher per-post engagement rates (and therefore higher EdgeRank) and greater efficiency in the long run.
Each brand needs to consider organizational factors when determining its global Facebook structure. But ultimately, as brands are making this decision, we encourage them to place the most emphasis on which solution presents the best experience for their fans and customers.