Are Facebook’s Global Pages the answer?


It’s been a question brands around the world have battled with for a long time now: should we opt for a single global presence, or would multiple, localised presences make more sense?

There are a number of strategic factors to consider when making this choice, as we explored in this post a few months back, but the technical side of things also plays a deciding role for may brands.

However, that technical challenge has just taken a new twist. A few days ago, Facebook announced the launch of “Global Pages”, a new way to help global brands deal with the global vs. local conundrum.

This is a new structure for global brands that allows them to have separate, localised pages for each country, complete with their own updates, profile photos, cover photos, page apps, wall, messages, etc., all neatly aggregated together under one identity.

One key advantage for global brands is that it groups all their pages together under one common URL (e.g., together with one total fan count and ‘People Talking About This’ number.

When people visit the brand’s Facebook page or become a fan, they’ll automatically be directed to their local page.

So, are these new ‘Global Pages’ a panacea for global brands?

The good news is that they address some of the major challenges brands have faced up until now, and offer a convenient alternative to the current ‘all-or-nothing’ options.

The two extremes of that spectrum have been fraught with difficulties for international brands. With a ‘global’ approach local markets could not customise the page. Administration of the global page was unwieldy without third party page management tools, as all of the local markets needed to be admins of the page in order to send targeted updates to local fans.

More importantly, every now and again, admins would forget to target their updates, resulting in outrage from fans. Meanwhile, with a ‘local’ approach, each market would navigate their own course, meaning no economies of scale and little brand consistency.

With this new solution, it seems Facebook has taken much of the surrounding customer feedback on board.

However, brands expecting all their international Facebook issues to be solved after the launch of Global Pages may still have a few axes to grind.

Most importantly, not all brands are eligible for the new pages. Only those spending enough on Facebook advertising to justify a named account manager at Facebook qualify.

Also, by default, this new structure inherits the inefficiencies and lack of brand consistency from the ‘local’ pages model.

Worse still, Global Pages will not let brands send out pervasive global content, as all fans from existing global pages will automatically switch over to local market sub-pages, to which you can’t send global updates. The only people left on the global page will be those fans from markets not big enough to justify a budget to run a local sub-page of their own.

And with only the really engaging content now appearing in fans’ Newsfeeds following the recent changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, this is the worst possible scenario. Expecting local markets to be able to afford to produce this sort of content on their own is naïve.

Strategic global brands will want to adopt a more nuanced approach than Global Pages allow out of the box – one that is usually best achieved with careful planning and a page management tool like Buddy Media or Vitrue.

As they say, possession is nine tenths of the law, so global teams need to make sure they manage the transition to their new Global Pages, giving local markets access to them through a page management tool under global control, which will also ensure that they can still send global updates to all of their fans. Also make sure to only set-up sub-pages for local markets that can properly support one.

Next, they should work on a content calendar which has room for both global and local updates, and pool budgets to make sure they can create engaging social content and Facebook apps that are globally relevant and can be easily localised.

A solution like this is not easy to implement, and global brands may find they’ll benefit from the advice of a specialist social media agency with real experience of dealing with these sort of issues on a daily basis for global clients. However, if implemented successfully, it does allow brands to have the best of both words – properly localized experiences for fans, but with global brand consistency, along with the economies of scale that come from a centralized content calendar and social content and apps that work across markets.