Facebook has added a new “Merge” option to the Resources tab of the Page editor. It allows Page administrators to apply to roll extra duplicate Pages they admin into their primary Page, adding the fans and check-ins of the duplicate Pages to the primary Page. Facebook has privately done some mergers of community Pages into official Pages in the past for prominent celebrities and businesses, but the option has never before been publicly available.
The merge tool will allow official Page admins easily publish content to and target with ads users who’ve Liked an accidentally created, test, or unofficial version of a businesses’ Page rather than their primary Page, helping some Pages instantly grow to their rightful size. Update 8/5/2011: We’ve determined that at this time, duplicate Pages must also be under the admin’s control to appear eligible to be merged. This means the tool is currently only applicable to admins that had made an additional copy of their primary Page, and now want to combine it with their primary Page rather than wasting time managing and publishing to it separately. Those looking to gain control of community Pages or unofficial fan-controlled Pages that represent the same thing as their official Page should use the “Is this your business?” link or “Report: duplicate” link beneath the duplicate Page’s profile picture.
Sometimes admins accidentally create multiple copies of a Page for their business or organization while still learning about how to use Pages. These duplicate Pages clutter the search experience and confuse users trying to Like the official Page of something they care about. These duplicates may attain enough Likes that admins don’t just want to delete them, leading to demand for a tool that would let them transfer the Likes to the Page that has most of their Likes and that they actively manage.
At one point offer a merge tool for duplicate Places automatically created by users checking in, but bugs and misunderstanding of how to use the tool led to issues so Facebook removed it. Recently, Facebook launched the Places Editor to get users to flag duplicate Pages.
Previously, when prominent official Pages found they were missing thousands or even millions of fans that were scattered on various community Pages, Facebook has agreed to merge the Pages. In one situation, this led soccer player Lionel Messi to gain seven million fans in seven hours. This was only available to admins who had an direct line of communication with Facebook, though, such as big advertisers and celebrities, and applied to community Pages an admin didn’t control, rather than their own duplicate Pages.
How to Merge Community Pages with an Official Page
Now, any Page admin can apply to have their Pages merged through the “Merge duplicate pages” tool in the Page editor’s Resources tab. If there are any eligible Pages, admins can select them and initiate the merge. Admins can apply merge up to five Pages at a time, and can submit multiple merge requests. Facebook will then take a few days to verify the application and ensure the Pages are in fact duplicates.
Currently, Pages must have identical names and be controlled by the admin requesting the merge to be eligible. In the future, Facebook may expand eligibility to include similarly named Pages such as “Attest Clothing Store and “Attest Boutique”. This could make the tool useful for admins who created individual Pages for specific products, local branches, or international versions but now want to manage them jointly. It could also help admins consolidate their corporate and local Pages in anticipation or as an alternative to using Facebook’s new Parent-Child Page management system for corporations with local branches.
If the merger is approved, Facebook will take the fans and check-ins from the duplicate Pages and add them to the admin’s primary official Page. No other content from the duplicate Pages is carried over, the official Page’s content will remain unchanged, and the newfound fans of the official Page are not notified of the change. The Help Center states that “merging is irreversible”, so admins should be sure they know what they’re doing.
The option should excite Page admins, as they may have the opportunity to quickly add people who truly care about their Page to their primary Page’s Like count. It should improve the Facebook experience for Page admins who’ll no longer have to ask “why do I have to waste time managing multiple duplicate Pages?” Mergers will lead to more news feed impressions and clicks of a primary Pages links without forcing the admin to syndicate the content to duplicate Pages, helping them drive a return on investment on their Facebook marketing.
All Page admins who control duplicate Pages should check to see if they are eligible to be merged.
While the tool is useful in its current form, the ability to merge in duplicate unofficial Pages controlled by someone else or that have no admin would be more useful since these Pages can have thousands of fans whereas accidental duplicates usually have far fewer LIkes. However, this would significantly complicate the approval process for Facebook, as admins could try to use it eliminate Pages protesting their business or that share a common word rather than actually being a duplicate unofficial Page with the same purpose.
Update 8/5/2011: Some users are experiencing a bug wherein the tool closes when they click to submit their merge for review. We’ll keep watch to see if this is fixed. Those who experience the bug should check back and try again in a week or two.
Update 8/12/2011: There may be additional requirements for users to Merge Pages, as we’re hearing reports that even admins of two identical Pages cannot merge them. If you have this problem, check back in a few weeks to see if Facebook has made the tool work more predictably or expanded eligibility to more sets of Pages.
For Facebook Page marketing and advertising strategies, visit the Facebook Marketing Bible.
[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip]