In 2010 and much of 2011, corporations focused on building large communities on their Facebook pages.

Coca-Cola has 34 million fans; Starbucks has 25 million fans.

Some in the marketing world has referred to this as Like Wars.

It’s not a particularly bad idea. The thought goes, have a huge audience of people you can speak with every day, for little cost (time for the most part). Build loyalty/advocacy, offer deals, gain customer insight, etc.

Since its collective inception, some of us digital marketing professionals have noticed a kink in the wheel.

If you have a chain of locations for your brand (franchise or corporate) you may want to use Facebook to offer a promotion at one location but will be restricted because that promotion will show up to users across all your geographic territories through the one page.

Or perhaps you own a clothing company with 10 locations throughout Ontario. Your Toronto and London locations happen to be supporting Movember next month, whereas your other 8 locations are doing other things. It becomes challenging to use the one Facebook page as a promotional vehicle because 80% of your locations and their customers will feel the information not relevant to them.

Another kink – perhaps you own a franchise and notice corporate doing a poor job managing the one corporate page. You may want to take control of the matter yourself and run your own social channels in your own geographic territory.

I can go on with examples.

Yesterday, my friend, Andrew Giles at Goodbuzz passed on this breaking story to me. Walmart appears to be in alignment with this train of thought and will be rolling out hyper local pages across North America.

Facebook seems to understand this potential need as well. A while back they created a feature that allows corporate pages to publish geo-targeted content (pointed out to me by one of tbk Creative’s Digital Strategist, Jessica Grossman). You choose the fans you want to have see the post. The jury is still out on this feature as I can’t get it to work.

Facebook Hyperlocal

Even if it does work, this new hyper local strategy presents two new challenges to think about.

Let’s say your the Social Media Manager or Marketing Director for a chain of 50 restaurants in Canada (franchised or corporately owned doesn’t matter).

You decide because of your brand’s community culture, customers would appreciate and take greater action upon individualized locations in which they can become a fan of.

Here are two hurdles:

1) Governance – If you have hyper local pages, one corporate manager or agency may not be able to create the quality of content the local pages need in terms of geographic sensitivity. For example, Jack Astors on Richmond St. in London may be doing a fundraiser for Easter Seals. In the traditional governance, the corporate office or agency may be required to create the content for this. In practice, this won’t work. Both parties will find the micromanagement to restrictive to get anything done with velocity and consistency. Having page content moderated at a hyper local level seems like the logical solution but brings us to issue #2.

2) Quality – As you scale the number of Facebook pages, the quality will diminish. Most Managers and franchise owners have very little experience in marketing, let alone social media or digital marketing. If a brand has 50 locations, can it be assured all 50 managers are publishing good, high-quality content on a daily basis?

The Answer

When analyzing #1 and #2, I think the answer lies in a blend of content moderation responsibilities between hyper local team members and corporate/agency.

Perhaps an overall editorial calendar is created whereby the locations are responsible for certain hyper-local type posts and corporate/agency is responsible for other more universally engaging posts.

To make this type of solution work at scale, it must be tied together with a good content moderation software. Can you imagine the Community Manager for Tim Hortons needing to make 3,000 identical copy and past posts on Facebook in one day?

I have done initial review and am satisfied so far with a software called Expion that may solve this problem.

It allows one corporate/agency to manage dozens to thousands of Facebook pages at scale, all from it’s console. Hyper local managers and corporate/agency can all be plugged into the system with different levels of permissions, editorial calendar editing powers, and governance.

The last piece necessary in this corporate puzzle will be a proper and effective ongoing training system for hyper-local managers. If you are going to give hyper local managers the tools to moderate your social channels, you’ll want to ensure they have the strategic thinking and inspiration behind the actions they take.

They need to know what to do, why to do it, and how it makes their life or job better. Software has not found a complete cure for the human variable, yet.

I believe this is the strategic blend necessary in many instances to heighten the effectiveness of social media marketing and will be the predictable future for many brands.

What do you think?

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Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here.