Businesses with multiple locations often ask whether they’re better off with one Facebook page or one for each location. Assuming that Facebook is a good choice in the first place — and there’s no guarantee it is, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier column — one page is usually the right answer. There are a few reasons why this is true:
- A crowd draws a crowd. What’s true in real life is also true in the social media realm: We generally gravitate to spaces filled by other people. In other words, a crowd draws a crowd. The presence of others signifies that what they’ve gathered around deserves attention.
A single Facebook page, then, would unquestionably be more well-populated than those that are part of a multiple-page approach. To put this in somewhat more direct terms, using multiple pages ends up in a cannibalized effort, creating a few small communities instead of bringing those communities together into one larger community. When a brand has the opportunity to draw a crowd with a single Facebook page, it should make the most of that opportunity.
- A larger, collaborative Facebook page appears more credible. A larger community also connotes safety. If others have joined a community, we are more likely to believe that it’s reliable and credible.
This is especially important when you consider the many privacy concerns that social media users have voiced in recent months. Fears about hackers, spam and the misuse of personal information are among the greatest impediments to the overall growth of social media. Those same fears keep people from joining communities unless others are present. A large community is an endorsement of sorts. It says to the user, “You’ll be safe here.”
- One Facebook page is more audience-friendly. When a brand fragments its presence on Facebook, it risks confusing audience members and increases the amount of work they have to do to connect with the brand. Which page should prospective community members join? Should they join one page or multiple pages? Is it worth the effort?
Brands should make it as easy as possible for users to find them and connect with them. Every extra decision point added into the equation makes it less likely the user will connect with the brand.
- One Facebook page allows for better moderation. It is crucial that your business monitor activity on its Facebook page. With responsibilities dedicated to just one page, a moderator (or multiple page administrators) can more easily answer questions, uphold community standards and police spam.
- One Facebook page demands fewer resources. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, one Facebook page focuses your efforts, demands less labor and allows for efficiencies. Better to have a small team that spends considerable time on one page than a considerable number of individuals working independently on pages with small communities and little audience engagement.
Starbucks is a great example of a brand with multiple locations using one Facebook page. Even though it has more than 17,000 stores worldwide, the coffee chain has just one official Facebook page. As a result of that focus, and a commitment to understanding how to use Facebook effectively, the Starbucks Facebook page has attracted more than 20 million “likes.”
Are there any exceptions to the rule that multiple-location businesses should have a single Facebook page? Of course. One example: a business that has multiple brands, each with a distinctly different audience, mission, product or service, needs to consider each brand separately. Each likely requires different strategies and tactics to effectively deploy social media. It’s important to remember, however, that such businesses are exceptions.
If you’re still unsure what’s right for your business, start with one Facebook page and closely monitor the audience response to see if another page, or pages, is warranted. However, remember that it’s a lot easier to add new pages if they earn their way into your strategy than to try to consolidate multiple pages that aren’t effective.
Also, consider that every minute you spend on Facebook is a minute that could be reinvested in other efforts. With that in mind, it’s clear that the more efficient and focused you’re efforts are, the higher the return on your investment of resources is likely to be. That’s reason enough to make one Facebook page the right choice for most businesses.