Most CMOs of major brands have at least acknowledged the potential of an effective social media presence. Still, many continue to overlook the value of getting local on Facebook. Brands with hundreds or thousands of physical locations cast aside a major advantage in social media marketing when they dismiss this opportunity.
Let’s not overcomplicate the issue. The main thing for CMOs to understand about the value of a national brand page on Facebook versus that of a local page run by one of their stores or franchises is that local pages have the potential to outperform national pages in nearly every facet, especially with the launch of Facebook Open Graph.
Will the local pages amass the same volume of followers, comments and interactions? No, not necessarily, but CMOs of multichannel brands with many physical locations shouldn’t concern themselves with these figures. Will it require some work to identify, train and empower the right local individuals? Yes, but technologies exist that can help make this more manageable. Is a comprehensive local Facebook strategy the right approach for every brand? Not necessarily, but the exceptions are few and far between.
CMOs should set aside any remaining desire to control every aspect of chatter about their brand and realize that customers almost always prefer to interact with a company’s local representative rather than someone from corporate. After clearing these hurdles, they can explore the opportunity and solicit input from their teams. Consider posing these two questions as a starting point.
1. How many interactions per fan does our national Facebook page generate, and could we do significantly better with a fleet of local store pages?
Brands all too often consider progress in big aggregate numbers: numbers of posts, numbers of fans, etc. Following that logic, no brand would ever want to go local by building out a presence beyond a national page that caters to all consumers. For a more realistic assessment of how your page performs, consider boiling these numbers down to the individual fan level: posts/fan, interactions/fan, etc. This puts the effort in a whole new and more accurate light. Any CMOs still not convinced should pick five stores or locations to enroll in a test/pilot program. After three or six months, run these same numbers for the local pages and see how things compare.
2. How do Facebook’s Graph Search and EdgeRank algorithm affect our brand’s Facebook visibility?
While traditional search engines return relevant content from the entire web, Facebook’s Graph Search returns highly personalized content from the searcher’s own personal network (social graph). In doing so, Facebook seeks out search results among all things shared publicly with the person conducting the search, including people, photos, video pages, places and more. EdgeRank, Facebook’s proprietary algorithm, plays a role in this process by assessing the relevance of all posts to determine what does and does not make it into a Facebook user’s news feed or Graph Search results.
Engagement plays a big role in making this determination, and people tend to connect and engage with local content a lot more than content created for everyone around the nation or globe. Local store pages have considerable advantages when it comes to creating relevant, engaging localized content; so marketers should consider them the brand’s best chance at gaining Facebook mindshare in the new Graph Search era.
Jon Schepke (email@example.com) is president and founder of SIM Partners.