Dear Corporations: Bear with me: Community Pages are a complicated mess, but you need to claim yours right now -- before Facebook changes its mind again.
In early November, Facebook started allowing companies to claim their Facebook-created Community Pages -- those reputation nightmares waiting to happen -- millions of which have existed since April, 2010.
Didn't know your company had such a page? You're certainly not alone. I'll betcha that Boeing doesn't know it has a Facebook Community Page, for example: This is official Facebook page of the Fortune 50 Boeing Corporation. It has 35,943 likes, but only one post - "Boeing joined Facebook" (no date)
Literally millions of companies, nonprofits, causes, and groups have Facebook Community Pages, and I'd be willing to bet most have no idea these pages exist -- let alone that anyone could add anything to them at any time. Or that the Community Pages come up first in search -- ahead of the company's official Facebook page.
April Fool? On April 1, in what many people took for an April Fool's joke, Facebook suggested that users create a "Community Page" when the page isn't for a company, brand, or public figure, as well as when they are not an official spokesperson for that organization.
That's actually could have been a pretty cool idea. But then Facebook went and created millions of these pages, often by laying claim to existing fan and group pages, without notice, or redress.
Clear as mud Here are a few of the statements Facebook and the Facebook Blog have made about Community Pages:
"Community Pages are a new type of Facebook Page dedicated to a topic or experience that is owned collectively by the community connected to it. Just like official Pages for businesses, organizations and public figures, Community Pages let you connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.
Generate support for your favorite cause or topic by creating a Community Page. If it becomes very popular (attracting thousands of fans), it will be adopted and maintained by the Facebook community." Huh?
On each Community Page, you'll be able to learn more about a topic or an experience -- whether it's cooking or learning a new language -- and see what your friends and others in the Facebook community are saying about this topic. Community Pages are still in beta, but our long-term goal is to make them the best collection of shared knowledge on a topic. We're starting by showing Wikipedia information, but we're also looking for people who are passionate about any of these topics to sign up to contribute to the Page. We'll let you know when we're ready for your help."
And, if that wasn't murky enough, AllFacebook, said "Facebook Community Pages are for when the page isn't for a company, brand, or public figure, as well as when they are not an official spokesperson for that organization."
To further complicate the issue, Facebook decided to re-categorize some unofficial company pages, which were run by fans, as Community Pages. It gave no warning, it just took the pages over. Natch!
Adding to the problem has been the fact that nobody could change the description or categories -- or mistakes -- made by Facebook in Community Pages, even if the content violated copyrights.
Claim your Community Page now. Before Facebook changes its mind. A few weeks ago, the question "Is this your page?" was added to the Community Pages. In true Facebook fashion, it just kind of showed up, and, unless you're Nancy Drew, you probably didn't notice.
Says Facebook to those who apply to own their Community Page:
"Once you have submitted the request to merge the Community Page(s) to your authenticated Page, Facebook will review your request and verify that the merge request is for two similar entities. For example, the Community Page for Nike could merge with the authenticated Nike Page, but a merge request for Nike Basketball or Nike Shoes to merge to the general Nike Page would not be approved.
Please keep in mind that the review process may take a few days, and that we may contact you if we need additional information. If we approve the request, anyone who has "Liked" the Community Page(s) will be combined and connected to your authenticated Page."
If all this is still unclear, call Facebook. What's that? You mean a company with 500 million+ members has an unlisted phone number? C'mon! Get serious!