Lost amidst all the general Internet hoopla and hysteria around the release of the iPad last week was the announcement by Facebook creating Community Pages on the platform.
While the move has been greeted mostly with general head-scratching and apathy among those who follow Facebook, these new pages are a clear signal that the powers that be at FB are tweaking the service to be even friendlier to brands and marketers.
What exactly is a Community Page?
It’s the newest classification of identity on Facebook, bringing the total up to four: 1) Profiles, 2) Official Pages, 3) Community Pages and 4) Groups.
Facebook says that Community Pages are for "generating support for your favorite cause or topic." But be warned--Facebook adds that "if your Community Page becomes very popular (attracting thousands of fans), it will be adopted and maintained by the Facebook community." Clear as mud, you say? Maybe a little review is in order.
Page Classifications 101
Profiles are for humans—plain, ordinary people doing ordinary people things.
Official Pages are for businesses, brands, and organizations. Musicians, artists, politicians and celebrities are included.
Community Pages are for member causes and topics that no one really "owns."
Groups are a place for members to share professional interests or hobbies.
So, Community Pages are designed for users who want to bring attention to causes and topics of their choice, or to create "unofficial" pages around brands or celebrities. Here's where it helps to speak a little Facebook lingo.
To reduce the spam threat, once a Community Page has passed a yet-to-be-defined number of fans, Facebook will convert the page to community ownership, like a wiki. The ability to e-mail all fans of the page will be removed.
Official Pages are For Brands and Businesses
If you're a business or organization and you want to establish a presence on Facebook, you must first create a Profile page for yourself, and then create an Official Page for your brand.
You must have the right to establish the page on behalf of the company/brand in order to create an Official Page. So only Starbucks may own pages classified as Starbucks Official Pages. A fan may still create "Starbucks--The Best Coffee”, but this would now be classified as a “topic” and be categorized as a Community Page.
Artists, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, politicians, movie stars, and other celebrities will also use Official Pages. Fans of celebrities who want to create fan pages for their favorite artists would use the new Community Pages.
So...What's the Significance of All This?
Quite simply, Facebook is trying to be more brand-friendly. By removing causes and topics from Official Pages and creating Community Pages, Facebook is doing some spring cleaning and making it easier for brands to be found via search.
If you were to search FB Pages for “Apple”, for example, NONE of the top 10 results in Pages would display the Cupertino-based computer maker. But you could find the topic “Apple turnover served over a hot, steaming child”, a business “An Apple A Day Depot,” or the page for the Apple Valley PTA.
My hunch is that Official Pages will be weighted much more heavily in search results and result in more clickthroughs to brand pages.
It makes sense for Facebook to stack the search deck in favor of generating clicks to brands. To attract more marketing and advertising dollars, Facebook has to increase traffic to brand pages in the most user-friendly way they can. It's as simple as that.
Of course, what is NOT known is if existing pages will be formally reclassified or not...or when. Facebook is good at telling the membership WHAT they are going to do, but not so hot at "when"...or "why".
My guess is that Facebook will flag pages into the new category as best they can, and then force page owners to re-categorize their pages on a login at some point in the future, as it has done in the past with changes to users' privacy settings.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s new Community Pages? Is this a shrewd move, adding to user confusion, or part of a massive selling-out by Facebook?
Facebook Wants You To Totally, Like, LIKE EVERYTHING! Facebook wants to make the Internet a much more like-able place, and is announcing several changes around its "LIKE" button at its F8 developers conference this week.
Embedding the Like button on sites across the Internet
Displaying brand/community Pages that users have Liked on their personal Facebook profile page
Recommending new brands/community Pages for Facebook users to Like
Renaming the “Become a Fan” to “Like”
The moves are just further evidence of Facebook’s strategy to strengthen the connection between its members and marketers. You Like Me..You REALLY Like Me! Facebook’s introduction of a “Like” button that online publishers can add to their sites is the biggest news of all. The new button functions much like “Digg this” or "Tweet This," and will supplement Facebook Connect as a tool that enables Facebook users to share articles to their profile pages. So why should Facebook users or marketers care? Two big reasons: 1) Activity Feed 2) Profile Page. Unlike Digg, which allows you to anonymously recommend web content, the Facebook button will publicly identify your external “Likes” by displaying a note in your Activity Feed and on your personal profile page. Facebook will also add the list of brands and cause pages that you follow, or have “Liked” in your personal profile. We Think You Will Also Like... In fact, Facebook will go one step further and recommend Pages you might like, based on your current “Likes” and content you post to Facebook. Update your status with a post that says you "can't wait to go to the John Mayer concert next week," and you will soon see "John Mayer" suggested as a Facebook Page you should 'like'. Some privacy issues have already been raised over concerns that the “Like” button, distributed across the web, could be used to track individual user behavior, but Facebook insists that it will use the data ONLY to provide better advertising and marketing recommendations within the Facebook platform. Reach Out And Touch Someone...Please Ultimately, Facebook wants to better connect people with brands. Most studies show that peer-to-peer recommendations are highly influential in purchasing decisions, and displaying a list of brands and products that consumers 'like' on their personal profile page and activity feeds constitutes a public endorsement. So, getting a “seal of approval” on a personal profile page that gives the appearance of endorsing a brand really can pay off for marketers. There's also level of trust involved here that both sides (Facebook and brands) have yet to fully earn. Facebook has made a number of missteps on privacy issuesthat has members feeling leery about what Facebook is doing with their data. And brands need to alter their normal behavior when on Facebook and not be too intrusive into what is, after all, a personal experience for the members. Most people don't join Facebook to connect with brands--they join to connect with their real-world friends and family. As long as brands play nice and join--but don't try to dominate--the conversation, my take is that they will be welcome on the personal pages of Facebook members. It will be a delicate balance. What are your thoughts--is Facebook ruining the social experience for members by facilitating brand connections or just bringing the marketplace to where the people are?