So many people have been creating unofficial Facebook Pages that the company has a new version of the feature available for them today, called “Community Pages.”
Facebook wants businesses, other organizations, public figures and other “official” entities owning their own pages. But, since the Pages launched as a feature of the site a couple years ago, how do we say… non-representatives of these entities have been making Pages on their own.
Facebook regularly takes Pages away from these people and gives them to the rightful owners, which is one reason why you might see certain slow-growing Pages gain thousands of fans overnight. Other times, it just shuts them down. Unlike domain squatting on the open web, Facebook doesn’t allow first come, first serve Page creation. It wants authorized Page owners actively doing things like interacting with users, spending on advertising, etc.
Meanwhile, lots of other people have used Pages for a variety of things, apart from any “official” usage. You can check out some of the more amusing examples over on our independent PageData tracking service. Note that the top non-official Page we’re tracking is “I dont care about your farm, or your fish, or your park, or your mafia!!!” It has 5.82 million fans, and is in 10th place in our rankings overall behind Pages for big social games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.
Here’s how Facebook describes the purpose of Community Pages on the site:
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.
We’ve seen all the creative ways our users have used the product to capture the causes, topics and ideas that they care about. So we’ve created Community Pages to give our users opportunities to express their enthusiasm and creativity, while allowing for Official Pages to continue representing official entities such as businesses, bands and public figures.
Groups on Facebook serve a different purpose from Community Pages and are for communicating with other Facebook users around professional interests and hobbies. We expect that with the launch of Community Pages, where potentially thousands of people will be connecting, Groups offer a much more intimate setting for discussion and collaboration.
Facebook hasn’t explained clearly what it means when it says “adopted and maintained by the Facebook community.” When we asked, Facebook only told us that “if, over time, it gains a large fanbase, it will be adopted by the community and it will not have one specific owner.”
What about Groups? Before Pages, they were the main way that people created funny memes for self expression or to share with their Facebook friends. The main differences today: Groups can have various privacy settings while Pages are public; Group owners can’t message members if it has more than 5,000 people; Pages provide more customizable options, designed for marketers; Pages include the Insights analytics tool; because Pages are public, information in them appears in search results (Community Pages are another way, then, that Facebook can get more content in search engines while maintaining its goals for Official Pages). For in-depth details on how different Facebook tools can fit into your marketing strategy, see our Facebook Marketing Bible.
We’ll update with more details on Community Pages as they become available.