Something pretty ridiculous happened yesterday. It was so ridiculous that I waited a whole extra day to mention it just in case it was, in fact, an April Fools Day prank. But, alas, it seems it wasn’t.
Yesterday, Facebook unleashed a giant mess called Facebook Community Pages, thereby ensuring that users and small businesses will forever live in a state of confusion over what the hell page they should create. Say you really like Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (best Easter candy ever, BTW) and want to talk about them – do you create a Facebook Page, a Group or an unofficial Community Page? What’s the Facebook-approved way to start a conversation? If you weren’t sure before, you definitely don’t have a damn clue now. And you have Facebook to thank for that.
It’s actually somewhat comical. When Facebook announced Community Pages, people thought it was a prank. They thought so because the mass confusion over the differentiation between Pages and Groups has been so public and overwhelming that users couldn’t imagine Facebook would add another layer to the mix. But they did. And what’s really funny is that had Facebook dedicated resources to SIMPLIFYING the process instead of making it more confusing, they wouldn’t even need Community Pages in the first place. Because, for the most part, Community Pages are a lame attempt at putting a band aid on something Facebook mucked up ages ago.
Facebook screwed up and all we got were more confusing options. Here’s how things were supposed to work back in the day.
- Facebook Groups: Facebook Groups were created back when Facebook made sense. They were designed to give the natural online communities a place to congregate and talk about a topic. They were intuitive and easy to understand. People liked them a whole lot.
- Facebook Pages: Facebook Pages were like Groups…but not. They weren’t for interests. They were intended to promote brands, public figures, commercial entities, celebrities, politicians and other Really Important Things.
The problem was no one really understood the difference so users and businesses created whichever they wanted. Brands created Groups when they should have created a Page, users created Pages when they needed a Group, and Facebook did a poor job policing the whole thing. And the result was anger and confusion. Imagine dedicating resources to a Fan Page only to have Facebook take it away because you don’t have the proper credentials to run it. Imagine starting a Group and then missing out on all the benefits of a fan page. Or imagine being so intimidated by the damn process you just abort the whole thing and go back to Twitter. Businesses have.
Facebook’s way of solving this wasn’t make its system more intuitive. It was to make it more confusing. With the emergence of Community Pages.
According to AllFacebook, 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. It’s the category to address the hordes of ‘unofficial’ Pages users have created when they should have been using Groups but weren’t because the process is too confusing and no one knew what the hell they were supposed to do.
The problem is Community Pages don’t solve the problem. They exacerbate the problem.
- More Options Means More Confusion: If the differentiation between Pages and Groups was confusing for users and business owners, adding another option probably isn’t going to solve the problem. It just adds another layer and gives users/business owners something else to consider and worry about. Why not dedicate time and people to helping people understand the system you had initially created?
- Page Hijacking: The new Pages are meant as a community platform. They’re “unofficial” pages that can be created for anything, by anyone. This sounds great until the page becomes so large that Facebook decides to enforce the ‘community’ aspect and take away your rights to the page. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. If the page that I create about them becomes too popular and gains too many fans, Facebook will take the page away from me and turn it into a Wiki-type page. Knowing that, where’s my motivation to grow that page and the community? How pissed off am I going to be when my page with 15,000 fans is suddenly removed from my control? I’d say Facebook’s gonna have a hard time selling that one, but good luck.
- Bigger ORM Problem: When anyone can create a page about anything with no policing, as a business owner you better be monitoring Facebook like never before. Your brand, your executives, your employees, your product – they may all soon end up with their very own Facebook Community Page. Don’t worry; I’m sure it’ll be positive.
It’s the Internet. People always have nice things to say on the Internet.
Facebook knows it has a problem, it knows that users are confused…it just doesn’t know what the hell to do about it. So instead of simplifying the process, instead of helping users to figure it out, they’ve added a third option to the whole debacle. It’s a band aid solution that Facebook needed once they let the system run too far out of control. Do yourself a favor – Don’t be Facebook. When you have the choice to simplify a complicated process or make it even more complicated, consider picking the former. You can have complex, but you need to have simple first. Facebook really needs to get out of its bubble.
What do you think about the new Community Pages? Do you like them or are do you think normal users are going to be even more confused?
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.