Ever since Facebook has introduced the new type of pages “Community pages” there has been plenty of talking around them: Facebook has been actively criticized for threatening brands that are building presence in the network.
First let’s briefly and clearly define what community page really is. The Facebook Community Page is meant to be the collection of knowledge around some concept, phenomenon or aspect of life. What makes it dangerous for brands is that those aspects of life can be popular brands as well. The community page can be of two types: (1) automatically generated by Facebook and (2) user-created.
- (1) The automatically created community page is the mix of user-generated and Wiki content: it is pulled from Wikipedia (general info, logo) and shared-with-everyone member updates.
- (2) The user-created community page is (almost) exactly the same as the regular Facebook page with easier creation process (fewer limitations and TOS to bypass when creating one). The huge difference between the user-generated community page and the fan page is that once the community page gets too popular, it becomes the property of the community: you lose your admin rights.
So to make the long story short, here’s the quick recap of differences between the three types of pages within Facebook:
|Facebook Page||Facebook Community Page (user-created)||Facebook Community Page (automatically-generated)|
|Created by a user (and managed by the user)||yes (yes)||yes (until it gets popular)||no (no)|
|Content||Around a brand, business, artist, etc||Around some common interest as well as a brand, business, artist, etc||Around some common interest as well as a brand, business, artist, etc|
So why are they being so actively discussed? The first and the most serious problem is that community pages and official “brand” pages get mixed up. They both appear in Facebook search side by side and there’s no way to tell which of the two is the “community” page and which is the official page the marketer wants you to connect to. The widely discussed example of this is JCPenney search on Facebook which pulls both the page types (and the official one is not necessarily goes #1 though it is much more popular).
Anyway, you as a marketer can be very disappointed and even scared by the move. You can blog and talk about the feature in public in a hope you will be heard and something will change. But while you are doing that, make sure you are still doing something actionable to protect your brand and promote it.
So let’s talk about what and why you need to do to make sure the Facebook Community pages won’t hurt your brand.
1. Search Rankings
The Anatomy of Facebook PAGE Search
To search within Facebook pages, you need to click through PAGES tab – while pages do rank high in “General” Facebook search as well, we only look at Page-specific search here to get a clearer understanding of its anatomy:
So looking at search results returned for your query, you will be able to instantly see:
- Each page name;
- The number of people who “liked” each page;
- The category of the page.
Tip! You can easily tell the community page from the “traditional” page in Facebook internal search by looking at the category. Community pages have no categories; they are labeled simply as “Page”:
Note: Thanks to integration with Facebook’s Open Graph protocol, sites like TripAdvisor.com and Yelp are now showing up in Facebook’s search results, with links back to their website. So chances are you may see “external” (non-Facebook) results in Facebook page search results. You can tell those by looking at their domains:
So what are the rankings factors?
That would be too easy if the number of “Likes” was the only parameter to rank pages in search results. Unfortunately, this is not the case:
If we start speaking logically, we can assume that the combined “relevance” is the factor: for example, a person who talks all about traveling, has plenty of photos about his traveling experience and “Likes” the Allegiant Air page in “Traveling” category, his “vote” may be much more powerful than a vote from a random Facebook user who knows almost nothing about traveling. But these are all just assumptions. It is unlikely that we ever be able to figure the exact algorithm.
What we need to know now is how to handle Facebook search results given the current state of things.
So let’s see what we can do.
Community Pages and Your Marketing Efforts
1. Monitor ALL community pages related to your brand.
What this means is the following:
- Find all community pages created for your business and sign up for them. Facebook allows to sign up to put yourself on the list of possible administrators, and also suggest your site to be featured on the page and become the source of content:
- Find all related community pages (on the same topic) and “Like” them. Remember that Community pages were created to tightly connect and organize the users’ interests. So the more relevant things you like, the stronger your vote might be.
To create the list of all related and relevant community pages, use both Facebook and Google search as Google indexes the wide range of Facebook pages.
2. Make sure your Wikipedia page content is accurate and complete: Remember that the massive amount of the auto-generated community page content is pulled from Wikipedia (including the logo and the general information tab):
3. Keep promoting your official Facebook page: The number of “Likes” and interactions must be playing the great role in Facebook ranking algorithm.
4. Use Facebook search regularly to get an idea of how your official page positions move up and down in the search results depending on your efforts.
Lastly, don’t get desperate. In the end, you don’t (and don’t have to) own Facebook search results. In the end, Facebook search is no worse than Google search where plenty of third-party results (like Wikipedia, popular blogs and review aggregators) may rank high and even outrank official sources. The key is not to own the results, the key is to keep everything monitored to be able to react to changing algorithms and rankings.