This morning, I listened to a wonderful free webinar from a company called G5, which I found via Senior Housing Forum. If you scroll to the bottom, you will see the link and it is a free webinar. If you are involved in sales or marketing for a senior living community, it would be very worth your while to listen to, in my opinion. Even though my audience is not the same as those of a sales or marketing director for a senior living community, we certainly have enough similarities and overlap to make it worth my time.
One of the questions that came up at the end of the webinar was from a Marketing Director of a larger senior living community that was managing 39 separate communities. This was the question that really perked my ears. This Marketing Director had heard during the webinar that if you manage a number of communities under a corporate “banner”, that each community should have their own separate, local Facebook page. The presenters recommended this strategy, but, being the only Marketing Director overseeing 39 communities, my first thought was “I feel your pain.” My second thought was, we have solved this issue in my organization, and I have been successfully managing just under 20 local Facebook pages for over a year and a half now. I thought I would use this blog to share my experience in case others are struggling with this situation.
I would like to qualify my solution by saying that this technique that I have been using to manage multiple Facebook pages was something I learned about 10 years ago when I took an Online Social Media Marketing course. It was recommended during one of the sessions, and I know that I couldn’t do my job without it. I am the Marketing Director for a growing franchise operation called Live 2 B Healthy®. We have just under 20 Regional Offices at this time from our “homebase” of Minnesota, to California, and down to Louisiana. Of course, we are always looking to grow our region, so – shameless plug – if you know someone who is looking to change careers, send them our way!
When I started as the Marketing Director 4 years ago, we already had a corporate Facebook page, and I would say it was moderately active and moderately successful. Of course, being armed with plenty of social media marketing strategy from my online course, I saw the potential and ran with it.
What I did to start out, was “pick” the newest member of our franchise team, get his permission to set up a Local Live 2 B Healthy® Facebook Page for him, and got started. I set up the Page for him, and, while doing it, began a “Best Practices” logbook so that I could duplicate it for all of our franchisees. I had to “Like” the new franchise owner’s personal page from my personal page. That is almost always the main objection I get from everyone. No one wants their personal FB page attached to their business page. The way Facebook is set up, there is NO WAY around this. Get used to it and stop posting things you would not say at a business event. In reality, though, there is no way anyone can link your personal page to your business page unless you lead them there yourself. It is just the way it is setup for managing. And, it works. I manage almost 20 different pages this way and have never had an issue.
After I had set up this first local Facebook page, I connected it to a social media management platform. I have used Hootsuite for many years because that was what was recommended during my online course, and it has worked for me. I am sure there are other services out there, but this one worked so I have stuck with it. Hootsuite allows me to connect as many different social media platforms as I like to one account, where I am then able to manage from one dashboard.
I used that first local FB page as a model, and actually used one of our national conference breakout sessions to walk all the other franchisees through setting up their own local FB pages, using our specifications for photos and descriptions, etc. Then, I had them all name me as an Administrator on their pages, linked them each to my Hootsuite account, and Viola – I am able to manage all of our almost 20 Facebook pages.
Of course, we had to set up corporate Facebook policies, and each of the local regions retain control of their own Facebook pages. We have the local owners use their email addresses, not mine, for notifications. I do not manage any in-coming conversations. I guess that is just a boundary that we had to draw from the beginning if we were going to be able to make this work without a full time Social Media Director.
So, when a new Franchise owner starts, I now set up the local page for him or her, and I manage all of the pages via Hootsuite. I have tried various methods of posting and, over time, have had some times where I am incredibly diligent in my postings, and then others that were not so. I tell each regional owner that I will post general information and postings on each of their pages. Basically, everyone gets the same content as what is posted on the corporate Facebook page, but just at a local level. Then, each location has the ability to post their own photos and anything else they care to post, within the guidelines that were provided. Some of the regions allow a few of their trainers to post photos, some post all their own photos, and still others only have the content I provide.
It is probably not as fully realized as it could be, but I feel that this process has allowed us to create and maintain the basic framework required for us to each have a local presence on Facebook, while still maintaining corporate control. We have not had any issues regarding improper postings or any other issues. Although, we do know that it is always a possibility. This is why we created the social media guidelines in the first place, and maintain control at the corporate level of all local Facebook pages. We have had to “shut down” a few pages if they have switched locations or are no longer in operation. So, for that reason, I would always recommend corporate control.
It is hard to answer, or to imagine, the types of questions people might have, so feel free to reach out to me with anything I have not discussed or if you have any input. I always love to get ideas from other people who have had success, so your input is always welcome!