Facebook intends its Pages product to serve as public-facing profiles for brands, celebrities and other official entities. But because anyone has been able to create Pages in the past few years, many thousands of Pages have been created by fans themselves, not official representatives. Meanwhile, many more Pages have been created by Facebook users about any number of other topics.
The company recently tried to reconcile how Pages are being used through the introduction of Community Pages earlier this month. Now, some unofficial Page owners are finding their Pages recategorized as Community Pages — meaning they lose control.
Unless, however, unofficial Page owners appeal to Facebook to have their pages classified as official — but more on that process in a moment.
First, here’s a closer look at what’s happening.
Facebook wants Community Pages to be for causes, topics and ideas. Official Pages are meant to be for: local businesses; brands, products, or other organizations; and, Artists, bands, and or other public figure, like politicians. Note, a similar product, Groups, is intended to be for more private conversations, created and run by users, and focused on things like hobbies and professional interests.
Pages, whether official or unofficial, have been patterned after Facebook personal profile interfaces; they include features like customizable tabs, and a publisher tool so Page owners can send messages to their fans.
Community Pages, though, lack owners because they are intended to be about things that nobody owns. As a result, there is no central way to control a Community Page, and the publisher tool doesn’t send messages to users’ news feeds. Instead, activity from the Page will only show in the feeds in the form of one-line stories if you “like” the page, or if you comment on it, or if you “like” other comments on it. Basically, they provide what any developer can add to any other site on the web using Facebook’s new social plugins. Other features of Community Pages
However, Facebook has consistently folded unofficial Pages into Official Pages over the years. This is why you’ll sometimes see sudden spikes in the number of new fans for slow-growing official Pages in our PageData tracking service. We’ve explored this issue in great detail before, including this look at the options available for organizations wanting to claim unofficial Pages.
The bigger point is that Facebook has consistently described Pages as being intended for businesses and other official organizations since the product launched in 2007. Community Pages are designed to accommodate the fact that many people have used Pages to create Internet memes, rally support for Causes, and other conceptual uses. Any move that hurts unofficial Page owners now shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the historical context.
But not all is lost for unofficial Page owners who have recently been notified that their Page is getting the Community designation. Facebook tells us that the process of classifying unofficial Pages as Official or Community is done via an algorithm, rather than via manual categorization. Algorithms aren’t necessarily perfect. To address automatically mistaken cases of Page identity, the company has an appeals process set up within its Help section. You can find it here.
Titled “Request for Page Category Review,” the form says that “if you think your Page has been miscategorized, we’ll be happy to review the change. Please note that the Page itself has not changed: it’s still on Facebook and fans can still search for it as always.” Then, owners are asked to send: Page name, URL, their relation to the Page, and the category of Page (retail, coffee shop, musician, etc.) and how the categorization relates to the rightful owner.
Pages aren’t as free-wheeling a product as it used to be. But the point of an Official Page isn’t new, Facebook has been clear about the product’s purpose from the start, and the ownership issues are basically what they were before the launch of Community Pages. If you’re a Page owner with a grievance, you at least have a way of getting it addressed.
Finally, if you’re a Page owner and you’d like to learn more about how to optimize your Page performance as the Facebook ecosystem becomes more sophisticated, you may be interested in the Facebook Marketing Bible, the comprehensive guide to marketing your brand, product, or company on Facebook.[Top image via Pixelrage.]