Is Facebook's new Global Pages a panacea for global brands?
Now brands can have separate, localized pages for each country, complete with their own updates, profile photo, cover photo, page apps and wall messages, but under a common URL. This will give a unified fan count and People Talking About This number. When users visit a page or become a fan, they'll automatically be directed to their local page.
This certainly solves some of the major issues from the old Facebook system. Previously brands could have either a single fan page across all of their markets, or local pages for each market.
Administration was unwieldy without third-party page management tools, as all of the local markets needed to be administrators of the page in order to send targeted updates to local fans. Every now and again they'd forget to target their updates, resulting in outrage from fans. And each market would navigate its own course, meaning no economies of scale and little centralized brand consistency.
In theory, Facebook has provided a sensible solution. However, brands expecting all their international Facebook issues to be solved after 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 will qualify.
Also, this new structure inherits the inefficiencies and lack of brand consistency from the local-pages model. It stops you from sending out global content, as all of your important fans from existing global pages will be automatically switched to local market sub-pages, to which you can't send global updates. The only people left on the global page will be fans from markets not big enough to justify a budget to run a page of their own.
With only really engaging content now appearing in fans' newsfeeds, because of 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 naive.
Global teams need to make sure that local markets have access to the new Global Pages through a page-management tool like Buddy Media or Vitrue that is under global control. This will ensure that they can still send global updates to all of their fans. Also they must make sure to set up sub-pages only for local markets that can properly support one.
Next, they should work on a content calendar with 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 localized.
If implemented successfully, this solution allows brands to have the best of both worlds -- 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.