When Facebook gave companies the ability to replicate posts made from their brand page to all of their locations in 2016 it seemed like a social media manager's dream come true. Finally, there was a simple, intuitive way to post content at scale on Facebook and reach all of your local fans!
Something didn't seem right...
Like everything that appears to be too good to be true, there was of course a catch to Facebook's solution. While it appeared that using Facebook's own tools helped you reach your local audience, the numbers didn't add up the way we expected.
We conducted a pilot study in September of 2015 where we manually posted content to a client's location pages and what we found were posts made to locations performed around 75% better than the same content on the brand page in terms of likes, clicks, shares, views, and comments. But that's not what we were seeing using Facebook's tool. What we saw were far lower than expected results. Increasing the audience by posting locally should have made them much, much better. So we tried to figure out why there was such a difference.
What is actually happening
What we found when we started digging through Facebook's documentation and our own internal statistics is this: Facebook's tool does not create local posts. It mirrors the brand page content on local pages. What that means in practice is that the people who "liked" local pages (fans) will never see these posts in their Facebook feeds. Only those who are fans of the brand page have the chance to see that content in their feeds.
"The post from the main location Page will be automatically shown on the Facebook location pages. They are not separate posts, but rather one shared post with common metrics (likes, comments, shares)." Source: Facebook
How fans see your content in their news feeds
Excluding paid ads, Facebook will only ever show content from a page in a user's feed if they have "liked" that page, at which point Facebook considers them to be a "fan". When a page posts content, some portion of its fans will see that in their newsfeed. What percentage is dependent on a great many things, not the least of which is Facebook's own algorithm. See Fig 1 below.
When posts are mirrored to location pages using Facebook's tool the audience does not change! See Fig.2 below.
Reaching your local fans
Once you understand Facebook's method it becomes apparent that mirroring posts misses a huge portion of your potential audience. So how do you take advantage of your total audience? How do you engage ALL your fans? You have to post from local pages. See fig.3 below.
That's a ton of manual labor... Or is it?
Posting to all locations manually might be fine if you have very few of them. It's still an exercise in cutting and pasting and reloading but it's doable. During our pilot study we concluded that it takes about 4 minutes to copy and paste images, messages, and URLs onto each local page so you can do the math yourself regarding how long it would take to do it for your business.
If however you want to skip all that cutting and pasting and get straight to engaging your total audience at scale then we have your solution in the form of our Social Manager. It allows you to write one single message and create custom posts to one, some, or all of your local pages. See Fig.4 below.
We launched it in June of 2016 and our clients who are using the tool regularly are reaping huge rewards in terms of unpaid exposure. One such example is Redfellas, an 11-location salad chain whose content has been seen 9.5 million times in Sweden without spending a penny on ads. At the same time, they say that they are spending 80-90% less time on creating social media content. See Fig.5 below.
Facebook is most likely going to continue to reduce unpaid reach for companies. While we won't get into the "why" there are plenty of people writing about it every day in anticipation of Facebook's next algorithm update. While many of the experts are throwing their hands in the air and saying that the only way to get seen is to buy your views, we disagree.
Facebook is pushing engagement and local content. Posting relevant, interesting content on local pages seems to go hand in hand with this mentality. Regardless of all other factors, the simple fact that there is a huge, untapped audience who can see content for free should be enough to motivate any organization to do what they have to capitalize on this.
If you want to learn more about how your company can get seen more, get better engagement, and ultimately drive more customers to your local stores, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.