With the launch of Places, Facebook began allowing businesses to merge their Page with a Place they’ve claimed. While there are some advantages for businesses focusing on generating foot traffic to a single physical location, merging has important disadvantages including lost functionality (at least for now). Here we’ll take a look two of the biggest problems with merged Places/Pages: an unfamiliar interface, and the inability to set the landing tab.
Facebook launched Places in August, allowing users to create Places for physical locations they’d like to tell their friends they’ve visited. Legitimate owners of Places can apply to claim their Place, giving them the ability to edit details, moderate comments, and advertise the Place.
The official guide to Place for advertisers explains that users who claim Places and are also an admin of a similar Page may be prompted to merge their Place and Page. Facebook recommends merging if a business has only one physical location and only one Page. The guide says, “you’ll be able to manage your business centrally on Facebook”, and Likes, content, custom tabs, and ads directing to the Page will remain intact.
However, Facebook fails to inform admins that merged Places Pages cannot be separated. This has angered some Page admins, and a few have formed a protest Page called “Unmerge Places & My Business Page“.
An important reason not to merge is that users may be confused by the change in user interface: a merged Places Page does not display tabs the way a traditional Page does. (However, it’s possible will move the tabs under the profile photo like they are on the recently redesigned user profiles — though Facebook hasn’t said that.) Instead, it uses a navigation panel beneath the Page’s picture. Users won’t see a panel of friends who Like that Places Page or previews of uploaded photos and videos, plus the option to suggest the Places Page to friends is dropped to the very bottom of the left sidebar.
Engaging with merged Places Pages is more difficult as well. The default landing tab is the Profile, which shows the Places address, a map, hours, and a description. Even if users have Liked the Places Page, they still see this tab upon visiting, and have to navigate to the Wall via the navigation panel in order to share their opinions or publish content. This is much different than traditional Pages, where those who’ve clicked Like can immediately post to the wall upon visiting. If getting users to communicate with each other and foster a sense of community is a business’ goal, the traditional Page is a better fit because those who’ve clicked Like see the Wall and publisher first.
While this navigation format is similar to the newly redesigned user profile, users are accustomed to seeing tab applications along the top of a Page, not running down the left sidebar.
Another serious deficiency of merged Places Pages is that admins cannot change the landing tab. Many businesses spend a lot of money or time creating custom tab applications or outsourcing this job to a Page management company. Being unable to show these apps to those who haven’t Liked your merged Places Page can hurt Page growth. Therefore, merged Places Pages miss out on much of the opportunity to condition access to tab app contests or content on a user Liking the Page.
It’s possible that Facebook will address these issues in upcoming product updates, but that’s the way it works for now.
Facebook says a “A solution for linking multiple Places to a single Facebook Page will become available in the future”, but it first needs to make this a more attractive option. The ability to set a landing tab promotes Page growth, which is important to Facebook as well as admins.