Everyone who is managing brands with multiple physical locations in social media will be aware of the problems coming along with it. Especially facebook with the possibility to check in, review and automatically created locations poses some challenges.
From our experience we observe three different reactions to this challenge:
- Single facebook page for the brand: More often than not that is the result of marketing and management being unaware of the problem and not a deliberate choice. At first glance, this makes managing the social media presence easier, but it comes along with unofficial facebook pages, where customers or competitors can rate, review and comment outside the control and often awareness of the brand owner. Moreover, people looking for directions, opening hours or contact info can and will get outdated or wrong information.
- Multiple independent facebook pages: Basically, there is nothing wrong with that. However, depending on the number of locations user and content management can get painful and require third party software to make this option feasible. So from our experience there is a high risk of ending up with a lot of pages without content. Moreover, those pages won’t be connected at all, so for example customers will not get informed about locations in their area.
- Facebook locations: This introduces a parent-child structure with a main page for your brand and pages for you physical locations. This introduces a number of advantages like bulk operations, shared user rights, shared content and a map showing all or nearby locations.
So in most cases facebook locations will be the superior solution. So why don’t more people use it? Well, they can’t simply use it, because you have to apply for locations access first. The good news is, that lately that has become a lot easier.
Setting up facebook locations
Following this step by step you should have no trouble establishing your location structure on facebook:
- Request locations access at https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/911181838969039 for a page you are managing. Please note that this page will represent your brand and can’t have an address associated with it. If it currently has an address you will be able to migrate it to a new location page for that address later. Do not worry, your main page won’t get deleted or lose fans in the process, you just get an additional location page with the address of the main page.
- Once access it granted you will get a “Locations” tab in your page settings. This is for adding or removing locations and editing information like address, contact or opening hours for each location. However, user management and publishing are not done here.
- The next step is to add a location to your page. Go to the Locations tab and add either one of your existing pages or create a new location. Be reminded that all your locations have to have the same name as your main brand page. So do not add additional information like the name of the city or street name in the name of the location page. The name of the city will be automatically added in parenthesis. Moreover I strongly advise to use the option to import multiple locations. The template is automatically created by downloading existing locations and you will save a lot of time this way.
Once you have completed adding the info for each of your locations, you are the proud owner of a perfectly set up location structure on facebook. Next we will take a look on how to animate your new social media channel. Thanks to new features that has become a lot easier as well.
Managing your locations
Publishing on multiple location pages and managing your community is becoming constantly easier as facebook keeps improving its locations features. As a result a basic social media presence can be maintained on all your locations without additional effort, because
- page roles from your main page apply for all locations pages, additional roles can be assigned for each page.
- posts from your main page can be shown on your location pages. That setting can be changed globally from your Locations tab and overruled by individual settings for each location page. Ideally there should be at least some individual local content for your locations pages though.
Therefore, we recommend to provide content centrally by your marketing department or an agency for your main page and all unmaintained location pages. However, whenever possible train a team member at a location to participate in community management and content production. Localized content will improve reach, interaction and credibility of your brand and enables direct communication with local customers for specific questions or setting up appointments. However, training is key! Being young and using facebook privately does not qualify for social media management and content production.
We recommend using facebook locations for managing brands with multiple physical locations, because it provides:
- control over local check-ins, reviews and comments
- easy distribution of content
- keeping business information up to date centrally
- enabling branded locations for events (location pages)
- showing visitors locations nearby on a map
However there are still some minor issues that hopefully will be fixed in the future. Most notably:
- Without using third party software there is no convenient option to show a specific post on certain pages. This can only be set by default for all postings, but not for individual postings.
- In some dropdown menus it is not possible to identify which of your location pages you are selecting. That has been fixed for most of them though.