Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Andrew Cherwenka Headshot

Social Marketing for Global Brands: How Many Facebook Pages?

Posted: Updated:

Building a global brand presence is one of the hottest topics in social marketing among the world's largest marketers today. With 380 million active Facebook users living outside the United States -- that's over 70% of the total Facebook population -- marketers are recognizing the opportunity to target campaigns toward fans in their own languages and communities.

The question being posed in marketing circles is how to do it. How many Facebook Pages do you build per brand: One global Page like Coke or one global plus multiple regional Pages like Starbucks Indonesia? To decide, marketers must answer 5 key questions:

Is your audience English only?
If your consumers are all English speaking and you don't need regional flexibility for campaigns then central-only control can work. The team at Skittles has the luxury of this simplicity and can get away with just one Facebook Page. Other brands like Adidas would be well advised to consider the Multiple Regional Pages approach. A quick look at their wall shows a clutter of many languages and very low interactions at less than 1/10th of what they should expect for their content and community size. Proper geo-targeting to one Global Page is possible but it comes with significant disadvantages and takes training and discipline across all regional offices and agencies - an unlikely scenario at even the most tightly managed companies.

Do you have regional campaigns?
Campaigns can be published to tabs but the majority of interactions in Facebook happen on the wall and get spread from friend to friend through their newsfeeds. Photos, videos and events can all be regionally targeted to one global Page through Facebook's admin screen - meaning only residents of Brazil will see Brazilian content - but that content is also automatically published on the global wall and to every fan's newsfeed. The result? More fan attrition as their newsfeeds turn into a multilingual salad pushing campaigns they can't participate in. Regional Pages like Blackberry Venezuela* are the clear winners when it comes to the ability to target engaging campaigns.

Will you be drawing insights?
Or as CMO's often say, "Why bother?" Geo-targeted posts in the Single Global Page scenario have to go through Facebook directly; they can't go through a publishing platform. This means those marketers are limited to Facebook's Insights tool and can't optimize with post-level data, can't pull aggregate reports from other networks like Twitter and YouTube, and can't archive posts for campaign comparisons. Social media management platforms like SocialTALK* by Syncapse and Context Optional's Social Suite enable the Multiple Regional Pages approach and are quickly becoming must-haves for serious marketers in 2010. The downside? These platforms aren't free.

How searchable is your brand in Facebook?
Having many official regional Pages lets you own the search results. Search for Honda to see the gold standard. When you have just one Official Page you could get bumped down by unofficial fan-created Pages, and they're often off-brand. A quick search for Adidas shows at least 10 user-generated Pages before the official one is listed.

How big is your team?
Giving people across multiple offices and agencies full access to publish to your one Global Facebook Page comes with all kinds of inefficiencies and risks. All it takes is one stolen laptop or an angry ex-employee and marketers have to explain how an offensive post was published out to millions. Global brand leaders are controlling access, saving time, and following the Multiple Regional Pages approach now with the governance and workflow capabilities built into these social media management platforms.

Facebook and its technology partners are giving marketers more power than they've ever had to build direct relationships with their consumers and generate valuable engagements and insights. When done properly, global brands can publish consistent equity messages to all fans worldwide while also building highly engaged regional communities. Where marketers in 2009 were mostly content to just participate with one global Page, the top ones today are taking a more effective approach by building and engaging many strong communities worldwide.

*Disclosure: The author works at Syncapse, a social technology provider that built Blackberry's Facebook Pages and SocialTALK, one of the referenced social media publishing platforms.