making sense of social

Separate territory fan pages are a bad idea for your brand

Social media allows brands to communicate with new ways and on new levels with their customers. Facebook for example allows you to create a brand presence in a social space, allowing fans a deeper connection with the brand than ever before.

However, this new opportunity also brings with it challenges. What if fans of your brand speak more than one language and live in more than one country? Obviously you can’t communicate with people in a language they don’t speak, and also, it’s difficult to be relevant to users when you are trying to talk to users of multiple territories at once.

More and more it seems the default response is to completely separate the communications approach. Many brands choose to create completely separate accounts and pages for different territories and languages. On the face of it this solves the problem; different accounts solve any language barriers and ensure the content is relevant to each of the different territories.

There is an issue with ensuring that every communication is on brand and on message, but there is a bigger issue. As a fan of Product X people don’t want to communicate with Product X UK, they want to communicate directly with Product X. This can be seen from the fact that brands with one single page will have more fans than competitor brands with different pages for each territory, even when you combine the totals for the territories. Customers want to know they are talking to THE official brand page, and territory specific pages get in the way of this.

As Facebook has evolved, the need for separate accounts has diminished. In particular, targeted wall geoposting and location specific tab content allows the end user to get the tailored content the brand wants them to see, in a language they can understand, but with a brand identity they want to connect with. Using these features you can do away with the need for separate pages for the territories and have a single destination for your global brand on Facebook.

A note on other platforms
Of course other social media platforms are a way off this, with the notable example of Twitter, which does not allow this kind of targeted communication.


About the author

This post was written by Mike Phillips

Plannery type person with silly side projects. Not to be trusted.

Follow them on twitter: @imjustmike

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  1. TheOtherHobbes |

    ‘Have a conversation with a brand’?

    Are you insane? Do you think anyone can get Apple or Nike posting comments on their blog or following them on Twitter?

    Why not be honest about it, and admit that you’re in the business of manipulating and scamming people to spend money on useless logo-fied crap they don’t really want, don’t need and can’t afford anyway?

    If you were a human being instead of some kind of soul-free robotic meme-driven advetrtising lifeform you’d realise why no one wants to talk to a brand – and the last thing a ‘brand’ wants is a conversation with *you.*

    Or anyone.

    Oh yes – and please consider this an interaction in social media space, where being ‘off brand’ and ‘off message’ proves that not everyone out here is an addled corporate nincompoop.

  2. Olrpd19 |

    I agree with most of this, but how does this rule apply to companies that have different content for each territory? For example, city guide sites or daily deal sites.

  3. Glenn |

    Whoa, @TheOtherHobbes, time to back off the caffeine:-)
    @Olrpd19, good point. Also, what about nonprofits whose different affiliates offer different programs and events?

  4. Mike Phillips |

    On facebook you can geotarget posts. That way French messages only only go to France etc
    I believe this is true for more local regions such as cities too, but don’t quote me on that!

  5. Rick |

    So are you saying that unique TAB content can geotargeted or localized depending on where a customer is from, all through one Facebook account? So if you’re from the UK, you’ll see a UK tab in my global facebook page, but if you’re from China, you’ll see a China tab (should we program different Tabs for different regions)? Can you point me to a tool that allows regional tab programming on Facebook? I can’t seem to find that…

    I know you can geotarget wall posts and content…

  6. Jules |

    I think it’s a question of what’s right for one brand isn’t necessarily right for another brand. As far as I’m aware Coca-Cola has a single page for all territories, because they can afford to. The brand is so huge, so iconic, that people instantly get it. They don’t need education on what Coke is, and they’re happy to just be a fan. The Coke Wall is covered in posts in different languages, and that’s ok.

    The company I work for however is very big in the US, but has only recently launched in other countries. Here in the UK, we have different aims to our US counterparts, and so, ideally, we’d have a separate FB Page for our UK Fans. We have different things we want to say to our fans, and differing products to sell them.

    As for the extent to which you can localise on FB, yes you can control which posts you as a company make to different countries, but not which fan wall posts appear where. Imagine a company launches in Russia, but is already huge in an English speaking country and all the fan posts are in English. That’s going to be a very jarring and offputting experience for any Russian person directed there. If the english speaking posts to that FB wall are many, the Russian visitor won’t even see any geo-targeted posts from the company to them because they’ll be knocked off the bottom of the page.

    Also, as far as I know you can only localise the content of certain tabs – you can’t customise tabs per locale (hide/reveal certain ones), which is incredibly restricting. FB are apparently changing what you can geo-target on fan pages, but as we all know with FB updates, whether that will happen, or when it might be happen could be any time.

  7. Ruchira |

    @Jules – excellent response. You really do understand the fundamentals of multi-market strategy. I worked in regional lead roles for years and more often than not – agonised that the powers that be just didn;t get that what is relevant in the US/UK might be irrelevant elsewhere


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