[Spoiler] ... there is no such thing!
Many companies, once they’ve reached a certain size and operate on an international scale, are faced with a fundamental question – how should Facebook be used for strategic brand presentation? A single corporate channel, several geographical channels, or maybe even topic channels? Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages that need to be weighed against each other.
Corporate Channels – "Major Players" Only?
The "classic" among corporate channels, a single Facebook channel to cover the entire corporate communication. The upsides are obvious:
- A broad content spectrum
- Easy to maintain with an easy-to-use UI.
- Suitable for both brand positioning and employer branding.
- (Geo)targeting allows for different contents to be used for different target groups.
The downside to corporate channels, depending on the industry, is the reluctance of users to follow a brand or a company. Interest in following a corporate channel is usually only motivated if it is a business partner, the employer (or a potential one) or the competition. Creating added value for your content is hence of paramount importance.
Topic Channels – Tailoring Content to Interests
Unless your company is already a hugely successful brand with an enormous fan base, it is high time to think about why users should be willing to follow you at all. If users fail to fall into any of the categories mentioned above, outstanding content is the only way to win them over. Therefore, identify topic areas that are of interest to your target group and diversify from one corporate channel into several topic channels. Whether it’s investment news, fashion blogs or tips for a healthy diet – there are no limits to current trending topics.Topic channels offer you the following advantages:
- High-quality content for specific target groups.
- Users are more likely to follow the channel and share its contents due to interest in the topic.
- Brand advertising is more subtle and less obvious.
Bear in mind, however, that content needs to be both related to your company and/or your services, and presented regularly so that you can ultimately, for example, generate leads and traffic to your website.
Facebook Global Pages - The “All-Rounder” for International Players
Facebook Global Pages structure is a measure worth considering if your company’s business reach is global, and if the respective markets respond well to social media marketing activities. In the process, various geographical sub-pages are combined into a single root page through which target groups of different origins are addressed with content created especially for them. The page structure behind this is simple:
- People are directed to a market-specific (i.e. country-specific) page based on their language and place of residence.
- Fans who do not meet the criteria defined for the market pages are directed to the standard page.
- Gives the entire page structure its name (i.e. username).
- Not visible, yet acts as the entire structure’s node.
- Contains statistics for all global pages.
- Master page administrators can also manage the global page structure on a targeting level.
- Consistent brand presence: One Facebook company URL, visitors see the total number of likes from all subpages combined.
- Central statistics: Facebook Global Page Insights offers all relevant key figures for local presences in one dashboard.
- Central advertising administration: Only one advertising account required instead of one per country page.
Again, also consider possible disadvantages here:
- Planning: Creating different subpages for global pages requires considerable preparation.
- Close coordination: Different (native speaker) teams, each responsible for their respective country page, need to cooperate closely.
- Considerable maintenance efforts: All subpages must be regularly maintained, i.e. updated with new content in order to reach target groups independently of each other (hence requiring sufficient long-term resources).
- Contents of existing pages cannot be moved to a new global page.
- Facebook has yet to offer the possibility to simultaneously publish a post on several pages.
It should be noted, however, that Global Pages is only available to advertisers. Applying for this measure hence relies on whether a company spends large amounts per month on Facebook advertising or whether it is of strategic importance to Facebook.
Excursus: Merging Two Facebook Pages
Next to the best-case scenario where a social media presence can be planned and implemented from scratch, social media managers are often faced with the challenge of revising and boosting an already existing structure of different corporate Facebook channels. This begs the question if and how two existing Facebook pages can be merged. If your company already has several channels, and channel diversity no longer has any raison d’être, channel consolidation might just be the way to go.
- You are one of the channel’s administrators.
- Both pages have similar names and similar themes.
- The channels share an identical top-level domain.
Starting Point and Impact
- Pages A and B are to be merged, A remains, and B is incorporated.
- The page merge is irreversible.
- Fans of page B will be incorporated into page A.
- Content posted on page B up to the date of the merge will no longer be visible.
How to Proceed
- Visit facebook.com/pages/merge.
- Select the two pages you want to merge and click “Next”.
- Then click "Request Merge".
- If you want to merge more than two pages, consolidation will take several steps, as Facebook’s application form so far only offers two pages to choose from. Upon successfully merging pages A and B into AB, AB may be merged with C.
Once applied for, the merge can take up to a week. In some cases, however, Facebook refuses to comply – sometimes for reasons that are difficult to understand. For instance, merges may be refused on the grounds that name or topic of two sites are not similar enough. Moreover, since there is no direct Facebook contact to clarify, the process of merging becomes even more difficult.
In any case, it is advisable to notify fans ahead of the planned merge. You should also be aware of the data loss you will experience for the page which is to be merged into the new one. Moreover, Facebook will not redirect from (newly deleted) page B to page A: Website links must therefore be modified for all online and offline media alike.
Conclusion: The Ultimate Strategy?
When it comes to channel strategy, there is no silver bullet, as it were – which is just as true for social media and online marketing. Developing a general social media strategy is the best way to determine which channel structure fits certain companies best. Keep an eye on the relevant KPIs in the decision-making process. Due to the decline in the reach of organic Facebook content, for example, your advertising budget also plays a role. In a nutshell, do you have sufficient means to cover several topic channels or geographical channels with paid content, thus ensuring visibility in your users' feeds? Always ask yourself critically whether your goals can be achieved with the steps you are about to take.
Borrowing an “outsider’s perspective” may often add crucial insights to creating a social media strategy and selecting possible communication channels – we are more than happy to support you in this endeavour – Just get in touch.