UPDATED: Has Facebook retired geo-locking posts? (Hint: yes, it would appear so)

A colleague of mine in the US just tipped me off to the fact that Facebook appear to have retired the ability to geo-lock posts from artist Pages. The whole geo-targeting aspect of Pages has gotten a little confusing of late, as Facebook introduced means to geo-lock (ie no one in country X can see the post) and a separate means to geo-target (ie only people in country X see the post in their News Feed, but the post itself is viewable to all on the Page itself). Confusing? Just a bit – and I’m happy to admit I fell foul of it at least once.

Now though, it would appear the geo-locking feature has been turned off. If you’re an admin on a Page, go to post something, and click on the globe icon on the bottom right. Previously, clicking on this would bring up geo-locking options. Now it appears to be greyed-out; you just can’t click it.

This has big implications for artists running campaigns in different countries. One of the artists I work with, for example, has just released their album Stateside. This album was released in late May across Europe. Consequently, their album campaign is at different stages in different territories, and geo-locking ensures that fans only see the posts pertaining to their country. Its not ideal, but sometimes staggered release windows are necessary and as such we have to make the best of it. Geo-locking ensures that if, for example, you have a single out in France that isn’t being used in the US, you can simply target the post to France. That way no one gets confused in the messaging and things are kept simple.

Geo-locking posts also allowed you to focus posts for other reasons. For example, if my artist creates a Spotify playlist, I would post that targeting only the territories where Spotify is active. Why? Because fans do not like being told that there is something available which they cannot access; it inevitably provokes a negative response.

There is one interesting aspect to this, namely whether Facebook’s retiring this feature is a tacit admission on their part that no one visits Pages directly any more. Its certainly true that the bulk of your fans will read a post in their News Feed – that much has been known for some time now. However even so, some do visit directly – and at that point you run a risk of confusing them, generating negative sentiment etc etc.

Its a bizarre move, no question. That said, Facebook is known to experiment with features on-the-fly. As such, this may simply be another experiment which will see the feature reinstated in due course. Well, that’s certainly what I’m hoping anyway, because without means to geo-lock posts Facebook will have removed a feature that is critical to maintaining a global presence where the same album may be at different points in the campaign. I only hope this is a temporary annoyance, and not a permanent fixture.

UPDATE, 28/9: It would appear that the geo-locking function has now been restored to the Pages I manage (so presumably all Pages?). Hence I can only conclude Facebook were messing around with feature changes at the time this was retired… Go figure.

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