Considerations for Multiple Social Media Accounts

 
 

Overview

Platform Recommendation and Brand Examples

In the past, Facebook has recommended that companies create a primary brand page or few core accounts – not many “outlet pages.” Other social channels including Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have not formally taken a stance, but conversations with their representatives have conveyed a similar recommendation.

By limiting the number of consumer-facing accounts, a brand can better control the alignment of its marketing communications. On the other side, brand fans will know there is one destination to engage with the brand and can easily locate it.

McDonald’s Place Pages

In October 2014, McDonald’s decided to go against this recommendation – aiming to launch 14,500 Facebook pages. Thousands of pages, if not the entire goal, have been launched to-date. If this has been completed, McDonald’s could be the largest brand on Facebook in terms of potential audience footprint. McDonalds has similarly launched Twitter accounts for countries, regions, states and even individual restaurants. The company worked with Salesforce to push unified brand messages to each page.

It marks McDonald’s growing focus on social media as a listening and customer service channel. David Martinelli, US digital marketing manager at McDonald’s said the goal was to speak to customers in real-time – that despite the large volume of branded pages, they are necessary to reach consumers in their journey beyond the restaurant. "We wanted to connect to them in the place they're at and deliver that relevant content. It's important to be part of the conversation and really understand what's being said, and then join the conversation."

However, holistic marketing campaigns have varied through 2015. McDonald's US stated that it would support the new pages with paid ads at a local level, but this activity has not been observed. While local McDonald’s pages publish matching content, they are constrained by Facebook’s declining organic reach. On both Twitter and Facebook, these accounts see low follower accounts and very low engagement.

The Facebook pages act as local business profiles and have activated their reviews feature, but this duplicates activity on Yelp and Foursquare. The user reviews are a fleeting moment in time; it is unlikely that Facebook’s algorithm would highly weight these posts, and users would otherwise have to visit the local brand page to see them.

This is in contrast to consumers’ natural behaviors around quick-service restaurants: to find locations, assess ratings, provide feedback or support. These are best done in the most responsive and largest community – likely the primary brand profile. In many cases, quick-service restaurant goers are not even looking to connect with the brand socially!

Brand Pages

Walmart, Target and Gap have taken a similar approach as McDonalds in setting up local Place pages since 2014. The focus here has been to support brick and mortar locations, but the same issues McDonald’s encountered have been observed.

Target, Amazon and Gilt also have differentiated Brand pages for their sub-brands: Target Style, Target Baby, Amazon Fashion, Amazon Mom, Gilt Home, Gilt Kids and Gilt City. These companies have been successful in establishing a social presence for sub-brands, due to significant investment in digital media.

The paid support – including social media - has resulted in large follower bases and content that reaches those followers. The number of social accounts is manageable internally, and consumers understand the differences between the business units.

Other Brand Examples

  • Xerox has approximately 50 branded Twitter profiles, 30 Facebook pages, 20 blogs, and more LinkedIn and YouTube profiles. These are brand profiles, not place profiles.
  • McGraw-Hill has hundreds of profiles within Facebook and Twitter, and more across other social channels. These are brand profiles, not place profiles.

Implications

  • Launching new social pages may require the input and/or oversight of additional stakeholders
  • New social pages will start from a blank slate, requiring investment in content, community management and paid support over time to meet brand objectives. Without this, it is likely the pages will have low follower counts and very low engagement.
  • Facebook’s decline in organic reach means that a large volume of branded pages would multiply the total investment needed to reach and maintain local audiences. Instead, one primary page could target local audiences with relevant content or offers.
  • The more branded profiles are supported with paid social media, the more likely it is that there will be inefficiencies and waste.
  • Consumers will have a fragmented social search experience as they see an overwhelming number of results for the brand, all looking similar in design and experience.
  • It is not immediately compelling for consumers to see that a brand has created a social profile with a local name. Seeing content duplicated across branded profiles may appear generic and turn consumers away from the brand as a whole.

Recommendation

I recommends that organizations typically merge the Facebook pages of sub-brand accounts into the main Facebook page. Facebook posts can notify fans that this change will happen. The sub-brand Twitter and Instagram profiles cannot be merged into the main accounts, but can similarly publish content directing fans to the main profiles.

Future Considerations

If the organization determines that a new business unit or other profile would be highly differentiated from the main social presence, the following considerations can guide the most appropriate course of action.

  • What guidelines must a new social profile adhere to?
  • What are the objectives for each individual social profile? How do these align with the objectives for a social channel, or social media as a whole?
  • Would a new social profile be required to meet thresholds (e.g. engagements) in a certain time period?
  • If accounts are not active, will they be shut down?

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