NB:Â This is a guest article by Travis Pittman, co-founder and CEO ofÂ TourRadar.
Whenever Facebook launches an update to its site it generally affects A LOT of people. One billion people, in fact.
Even though Facebook has now listed on the public markets and it has a team of thousands of people spread across the globe, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg knows he and his team need to continue innovating and rolling out changes that make life easier for its users and advertisers to engage via the ubiqutous social network.
Facebook Pages have become the norm for the way consumers engage with their favourite brands on the social network, so any change to these Pages can affect a lot of people.
A couple of weeks ago, Facebook announced the launch of Global Brand Pages. For such a big update I believe the fanfare around it has been pretty minimal.
Naturally after the news, there are many articles in the blogosphere outlining that the ulterior motive for this update is to allow Facebook to get its hands on more advertising dollars.
This may well be true, however thatâ€™s not what this article is about.. my aim is to highlight how this update will affect businesses in the travel industry.
My company, TourRadar, powers apps that plug easily in to the Facebook Pages of hundreds of tour operators all over the world. As our clients are spread out from Mexico to Botswana to Germany to Australia plus many other countries in between, we often get asked should tour operators have separate Facebook Pages for each market they are in or just one global one?
The answer used to be a difficult one – however, now with this latest update from Facebook it looks as though they have made it much simpler for businesses dealing in local markets around the world to maintain and grow their Facebook presence.
What does it actually mean for businesses in the travel industry?
As everyone in the industry knows, the web has virtually removed all barriers for a business to reach consumers worldwide.
Some businesses have created multiple Facebook Pages to target their messages to fans in specific regions, whilst others used just one Facebook Page to blast all fans with every message.
One URL – multiple pages, different content
Under the new Global Brand Page structure, businesses with multiple pages will be able to merge all into the one URL – www.facebook.com/[Single-Brand] – and still maintain their region-specific posts and discussions going as they are now.
As a user, it depends on my physical location as to what page I see. If Iâ€™m in New Zealand and look up a business’s page, Iâ€™ll see the NZ-region content. If Iâ€™m in the UK and do the same, I see the UK region content.
This will allow the businesses team in each region to post specific photos and comments which would engage only their local audiences as they do now. But for all other visitors from around the world they would see by default the Global Page which is effectively a third region that could have more generic content posted to it.
If a user would like to see a regional page, different to the one that Facebook has served up automatically for them, they can do this by selecting the small “gear” symbol on the right of the page and choose “Switch Region” which will appear in the popup below:
Great for inbound businesses selling to domestic AND international customers
I see this as being fantastic news for local companies who deal mostly with domestic customers, however are starting to reach out to international audiences.
For example, I recently attended the ATMEXÂ conference in Mexico for local tour operators where they are fighting a continuous battle with attracting international audiences to experience the amazing culture, landscape and activities on offer there due to the bad press around the drug cartels that the mainstream media loves to promote.
To change the international marketâ€™s perception is not going to happen overnight at a political level, however one common theme that did arise from the conference was that through Facebook pages the various organisations are starting to make their “voice” be heard, albeit it at a micro level.
This latest update by Facebook will allow these local businesses to continue to engage their domestic, spanish speaking audience via their regional page, however be able to easily create a Global Page where all engagement can be in English to reach people literally on the other side of the world which before the social network existed was near impossible.
Taking tghis one step further, if Facebook was to allow the targeting of messages down to the city that a day tour operator was based, the users who have Liked a Page could also be viewing “in destination” messages tailored for those at the zero moment of truth in their news feed.
Global Brand Pages – whatâ€™s customisable?
Iâ€™ve used the beauty product company Dove as an example below, primarily because this the brand Facebook referenced in its announcement post.
- Profile photo – customisable for each region
- Cover photo – customisable for each region
- About – customisable for each region
- Photos – uploaded and only shown to each region
- Tabs/Apps – customisable for each region
- Likes/Talking about – same cumulative total number shown on all regions
- Switch Region – users have control over which region they want to see
Posts per region
If you see the screenshot below, youâ€™ll see the same English post has been added to the United States and Canada Pages. Whereas a different, localised, German version of the post has been added to both Austria and Germany Pages. Interestingly this post was NOT added to the global version of the page.
Youâ€™ll notice as well, the different levels of engagement (likes, comments) between the different Pages. I would imagine that if Dove just had one Page for its company in English, they would not have had the same level of engagement from its German speaking fans like you see above.
I know from my own experience of being an English native speaker living in Austria that Iâ€™m more inclined to commenting/speaking out on posts in my native tongue.
Apps and content translation issues
Unfortunately, to date there has not been a great deal of public information shared with Facebookâ€™s Third Party Developers about what this change means.
Whilst it will potentially add great functionality for users by seeing a Page and its Apps all in their own local language, I do see it presenting some issues with the third party app developers.
If Facebook allows developers to build multi-lingual capability into their apps via the API and Open Graph, I can already envisage an issue with some of TourRadarâ€™s operators, for example, who may operate at a global level, but havenâ€™t yet had their tour descriptions and itineraries translated into local languages (ie. German).
Meaning a traveller based in Germany would be seeing the Apps in German, however all the content would still be shown in English… not catastrophic, I know, but also not ideal. So there will definitely be some challenges around content translation that need to be dealt with with this localisation.
Another benefit of this update is that all the Page Insights (Analytics) from the different region Pages are aggregated into the one easy-to-view dashboard.
How can I use this new functionality?
At the moment it seems these Global Brand Pages are only available for businesses who are spending considerable amounts on Facebook Advertising.
Iâ€™m sure in the coming weeks or months as Facebook tweaks the system based on feedback from its beta testing with these businesses, it will roll this functionality out on a grander scale.
My biggest concern is around the merging of multiple pages into the one. This has been a big issue with many of our customers who began their businessâ€™s Facebook life as a so-called user profile and needed to migrate this profile to a Page.
On too many occasions has this migration gone horribly wrong with a business going from several thousand “Friends” to just a couple of hundred “Likes”. I hope they manage to sort these bugs out for this round of merging.
On the surface this update sounds fantastic, but I do want to issue a warning that you should seriously consider the time and resources (local Page managers, content translation, etc) required before you jump into creating localised pages for each of your international markets.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that the majority of travel businesses these days arenâ€™t properly managing ONE Facebook Page, which is why I would only recommend upgrading to this IF you have a proper social media strategy in place as well as the necessary hands on deck to be able to create the content and engage with your audience at a local level.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Travis Pittman, co-founder and CEO ofÂ TourRadar.
NB2: Facebook global image via Shutterstock.