Going Local on Facebook in 2013

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 02 Jan, 2013

As the social Web continues to expand with more ways for brands to connect with their customers, there is still one network that outperforms the rest - Facebook.

This is because the world's largest social network allows brands of all sizes to reach a user base that includes 1 billion active members. However, in order to reap the benefits of such a large user base, businesses must first foster a community of fans and then work hard to stay visible within users' newsfeeds and the search results.

However, the strategies for becoming more visible on Facebook vary greatly depending on the size of your business. For example, global brands need to focus on providing relevant information to fans around the world, while small businesses should be more interested in engaging their loyal consumers and attracting a larger number of local fans. Luckily, Website Magazine has put together a guide to help both large- and small-sized businesses find Facebook success with a local audience in 2013:

Big Businesses

Facebook made the localization process much easier for international businesses back in October when the company launched Global Pages. The Global Pages structure allows brands to provide a better-localized experience to their customers because fans are automatically directed to the best version of a Page based on the country where those users reside. In fact, Global Pages enable brands to offer localized cover photos, apps, milestones and "about" information to their audience members without taking them away from the brand's global community.

Each brand's Global Pages structure includes local Pages for specific markets and a default Page for all other markets. Users from all countries see the same Page name translated in their local language, and each brand uses only one URL to promote in off-Facebook campaigns. Furthermore, Global Pages provide businesses with global insights for fans in all countries. Moreover, brands that currently use a multi-page strategy are able to transition their existing Pages to the new Global Pages framework. Companies like Kit-Kat and the Holiday Inn are two companies that already leveraged this capability. 

However, it is important to note that the Global Pages structure currently only works for countries and not for the state or city level. This means that businesses with multiple locations in one country, such as the United States, will need to continue using other strategies to reach local customers within various regions. These strategies could include posting geo-targeted status updates, launching region-specific advertisements, occasionally including a placemark within posts and maintaining updated location information for all brick-and-mortar stores within the "Map" app on Brand Pages.

Small Businesses

While Facebook made the localization process easier for global businesses in October, the company helped level the playing field for all brands in December. This is because Facebook updated its "Nearby" feature within the company's iOS and Android applications to make it easier for users to discover nearby places while on the go.

The updates enable users to discover local destinations that friends recommended, checked in at or liked when they tap the Nearby tab within the app's vertical menu bar. After checking in to a location, users can share information about their experience by rating or recommending places. This is good news for businesses with an active social following because results become more personalized based on the amount of people who rate, recommend and check in to places - meaning that local businesses can move up in the search results with positive reviews, ratings and frequent check-in activity.

Local business owners can optimize their brand's visibility within the Nearby search results by maintaining a Page that includes updated location information and the correct category listing. Furthermore, Page owners should encourage or incentivize their fans to like, check in, rate and recommend their places on Facebook. It is important to note, however, that even though optimizing your Page to show up in the Nearby search results should prove to be profitable, small businesses can also implement some of the aforementioned big business strategies to attract local customers, such as posting geo-targeted status updates and advertisements.

Mobile, Social and Local in 2013

Due to mobile's rising popularity and use, expect localization to be among the top trends of 2013. That said, many consumers leverage social networks on their mobile devices, which means that appearing in the local search results on networks like Facebook will be more important than ever for businesses of all sizes. This is why it is vital for brands to maintain a presence on social networks to not only communicate with customers, but also to be found.