Last week Facebook unveiled plans for new Global Pages that will allow brands to show localised content to different markets from a single centralised account.
As well as automatically translating content into the visitor's local language, the new pages will allow brands to setup localised versions of their cover photos, profile photos, apps, milestones, 'about' info, and newsfeed stories.
According to Facebook, the main benefits of Global Pages are that brands will be able to establish a consistent "global brand identity" using one URL. Also, admins of the main page will see insights for all global users in one dashboard.
So what do these Global Pages mean for brands and what impact will it have on content strategies? To find out more I spoke to four social media experts...
1. Global brands often have different Facebook accounts for local markets. Does this mean they can shut them all down and just operate a single Facebook account?
Jordan Stone, strategy director at We Are Social:
In effect, yes. But only those spending enough on Facebook advertising to justify a named account manager at Facebook qualify to have the new Global Pages set-up. So it's by no means an option for everyone.
Will Francis, co-founder of Harkable:
The new Global Pages product will allow social media managers to associate those existing local pages with a central global page.
Facebook will then show the local version when appropriate, or default to the global page.
Henry Elliss, digital marketing director at Tamar:
Based on Facebook's new approach, it's less about shutting them down and more about merging them into a new Global brand page.
There they will effectively still be available to audiences in that territory, but under the global umbrella. Unless of course you have fans in currently "unsupported" territories - in which case they will see the generic page.
Matt Owen, social media manager at Econsultancy:
I think it depends on the brand. Many large brands (Starbucks are the elephant in the room here) have local pages, but those pages have a distinct personality, and it may be more about lining up your global comms structures to provide a unified experience.
That said, it allows senior social managers to collaborate more effectively with local teams, and get a real feel for local markets and expand their perspective.
2. Facebook already allowed brands to send geo-targeted posts. How does the global account differ?
While it's true that brands who previously employed a single page solution could geotarget updates by languages and country, they were however limited to a single global look and feel to the page.
So they could not geotarget features like the cover photo, profile picture, timeline, milestones, pinned posts or even page apps.
It created a fairly messy, and typical, situation where there would be a single global page that had a shared wall of global conversations in multiple languages and static set of tabs that featured apps that might not be relevant to every region (e.g. promotions that aren’t eligible in some markets).
The new Global Pages will allow brands to more fully customise the local page experience for each of their markets, but still maintain a single page name, like count, People Talking About number and friend activity across all of their pages.
Whilst geo-targeted posts were a good solution, brands still want to localise assets such as the cover image and apps to create fully localised experiences.
This is why many brands created local pages despite the existence of geo-targeted posts.
The biggest advantage it offers will be unity - the ability (for instance) to put a single Facebook URL in all your advertising, as well as hopefully negating one of the biggest problems brands with multiple pages currently face: the unreliable and often down-right useless Facebook search box.
I think it just gives a better user experience overall. Where previously there was a lot of crossover content, now we’re going to see far more targeted posts, that are directly relevant to local users.
It will also hopefully remove the ambiguity of targeting. Occasionally there is bleed-through to non-targeted users, so this will enable brands to utilize local offers and promotions more effectively.
3. How will this impact how brands communicate with a global audience? Will it make a difference to the content that brands produce?
If they're not careful, this could have a negative impact. Posts from the global page can not be targeted to local pages, so there's no easy way of sending global updates that ‘reach everyone’ as they once did.
This threatens the concept of global updates, as all of your important fans now belong to the local markets. The only people left on the Global Page will be fans from markets not big enough to justify a budget to run their own page.
From a content strategy standpoint, it means that brands should make sure they only set-up local pages for markets that can properly support one. In light of the recent changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, where only the most engaging content appears in fans’ newsfeeds, it’s even more imperative that local markets produce the sort of high quality content that will keep fans engaged.
Brands should consider a content calendar which has room for both global and local updates, and pool budgets to create engaging social content and Facebook apps that are globally relevant and can be easily localized.
This development will allow global brands to commit more confidently to fostering local communities around their products.
I hope we'll see the big brands making the most of this opportunity to connect with local markets in a more meaningful way.
It shouldn't really - though one thing the announcement doesn't make clear is how the global page will treat tab-based content.
So for instance if you run a competition through a third-party app on your page for one country, but the contest isn't open to entrants from another, how will brands manage that confusion?
With prizing laws differing wildly around the world, ensuring you target that content (as well as your regular wall posts) correctly will be crucial.
I imagine brands will need to produce more content as they’ll effectively be running a number of local pages.
Previously you could get away with posting one piece of content that would be relevant across several territories. Now, you’ll really need to make sure everything visible to each region is relevant.
Ultimately this will help with providing a unified brand presence globally, but it will mean more creative work and a need for regional managers to sync up their efforts closely.
4. Facebook says that page admins "will see insights for all global users in one easy-to-view dashboard." How is this an improvement on the previous insights from the previous dashboard?
It's not a massive improvement really. It does allow you to see a view of all of your fans globally, but also by market, which is useful.
What's more interesting is Facebook's promise in the announcement to provide country-level fan counts for all pages publicly though their API. But access to more than just fan counts would be even more useful.
Hopefully this will bring local social media managers the facility to separate their analytics and insights from other global ones, meaning they can measure the success of their local campaigns more transparently.
By the sounds of it, it won't be very different at all - you'll just have them all available in one place now, rather than potentially having to compile and crunch data from multiple different page insight suites.
It'll certainly be interesting to be able to easily compare audience responses from different countries, but you can do that fairly easily now - so the only improvement seems to be efficiency!
I get the impression this will mean we’ll have the ability to separate out insights more effectively. Previously you could narrow down to a certain point but not get all the information about users, except by running through your posts one at a time.
It sounds as though this will make reporting faster and easier, although it’s definitely up to Facebook to provide real clarity on this.