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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Currently Facebook Pages are Nearly Useless for Promotion

Background

Ever since Facebook rolled out its redesign of Pages on Feb. 11, 2011, there have been problems. This has made the last month very frustrating for me, as a promoter, marketer, and social media user.

Though I have been advocating for Pages and Groups to undergo a redesign, I had not anticipated that Pages and Profiles would become more aligned. I figured Pages and Groups would need to practically merge. But when the redesign came out, I initially greeted it with cautious optimism, because the main aspect I liked was the ability to use Facebook as me, or as a Page. This functionality has been a long time coming and much needed. It allows me to post as me or as a Page throughout Facebook, including on a Page.

I realized, however, something was very wrong on Saturday, Feb. 26, when I created a new Page for a company and when I tried to Suggest to Friends, I could not. I could go through the process of clicking on Friends' Profile pictures and clicking Send Recommendations, but when I returned to Suggest to Friends, their Profile pictures were not grayed-out, which, before, was the usual sign that a Recommendation had been sent to that friend.

I passed it off as a bug on the Sender's (my) end and figured the Recommendations would be going out as they always had. So I waited, as I had done many times before, for Friends to start Liking the page. After two hours and nobody Liking the page, I decided to investigate further by reading online forum posts.

As it turned out, this was a bug that people had been experiencing since the new Redesign (I even found some forum posts of people experiencing this problem before the redesign). And, there were online posts from Facebook saying it was a problem of which they were aware and were fixing.

I decided to not just wait for the fix to occur, but to be proactive and try to find a work-around. I had created the new Page under the category Business Services, so I decided to create Pages under the Small Business and Media/News/Publishing categories (thinking the type of category may have affected the Page). But these pages had the same results: I could not Suggest to Friends.

I then went to an existing Page I administered which was under the Non-Profit Organization category. Even though this Page existed long before the redesign was released, it had the same result: I was still unable to Suggest to Friends.

Come the following Saturday, Mar. 5, I had run out of ideas, was frustrated, began enlisting the assistance of my local social media club cohorts, and started to wonder if the conspiracy theories I had read about online were true. In summary, these theories postulate that Facebook is removing the ability to Suggest to Friends on purpose as a way of forcing people to pay for Ads to promote their Pages.

This would be a major shift of mentality regarding discussion and the sharing of information for Facebook (similar to the one Hootsuite underwent when it began forcing certain users to pay to continue using the service in December 2010) and it would kill a major aspect of the Facebook allure for many users. As one cohort put it, “I'm sold on the conspiracy. They wouldn't do this by accident, I believe. It has to be on purpose. It would make Facebook nearly useless to political candidates relying on word-of-mouth page sharing.”

Unfortunately, this type of word-of-mouth Page sharing had already been disabled by Facebook in January 2011. I was tolerant of this change, which made it so only Administrators of Pages can Suggest to Friends, because I could see a benefit of giving more control to the Page Administrators. However, it comes at a great cost: a Page is much less likely to grow rapidly since Likers of the Page no longer can Suggest to Friends.

So by Saturday, Mar. 5, when I had pretty much given up trying to solve the problem, I went to the new Page I had created just to test it once more. To my great surprise, I was able to Suggest to Friends and their Profile pictures grayed-out. Somewhat in disbelief, I went to the older existing Page and sent out Recommendations to friends. Sure enough, this worked as well.

Again, I decided to wait and see what would happen with the new Page after I had sent Suggestions to Friends, as I had done exactly a week earlier. Since, this time their profiles grayed-out, I was pleased that the Suggest to Friends seemed to be working again. But, like the week before, after two hours and nobody Liking the page, I realized something was still very wrong.

Come Monday, Mar. 7, and still nobody Liking the page, I decided to try a different tactic: to post on my Wall, using the Share link in the Page. I wanted to see if anyone could even access the Page. After only a few minutes, people were commenting on and Liking the post I had made, so I knew they could see it. Now, it was time to do some further specific research.


Research

I contacted a friend who was online and who I knew received the Post I made and to whom I had sent the Recommendations to the new Page (both times I sent them out, a week apart) and to whom I had sent the Recommendation to the old Page. I asked him if he saw a Like button on the new Page. He did not. I asked if he had received either of the Recommendations I sent from the new Page. He had not. I asked if he had received the Recommendation from the old Page. He had, and the Like button was there, and he could use it.

Then he tried using Facebook Search to find the new Page, which he could, and the Like button was there. I then told him to go to the website corresponding to the new Facebook Page and to click the Facebook icon for the Page. When he did this, the new Facebook Page had the Like button.


Conclusions

1. Only Administrators can Suggest to Friends and use the Share link for a Page, but anyone can provide the direct link to the Page.

2. If an Administrator uses the Share link, receivers who go to the Page will not see a Like button.

3. Suggest to Friends for new Pages (after Feb. 10, 2011) does not work, even though from the Administrator point of view, it looks like it does.

4. Suggest to Friends for old Pages works (but did not between Feb. 10 and Mar. 5, 2011) and receivers who go to the Page will see the Like button and can use it.

5. Using the direct URL to connect to the Page (either through Facebook Search, as a link from somewhere else, or when typed into the browser URL field) makes the Like button appear to a non-Liker of the Page.


Final Thoughts

It appears that we must wait until the new redesign of Pages is completely released on Mar. 10 to see what happens. Hopefully it is a major improvement and this is a simple two-month hiccup in the use of Facebook Pages for promotion.

I wonder if the new Page Suggest to Friends that I sent out will ever be received by the friends, since I have no way of knowing if they were actually sent out and I cannot re-send them since the profiles are grayed-out.

Page impressions for new Pages keep changing upward and downward, so they are unreliable. And, the View Insights are turned off completely for new Pages as there are no insights provided. Old Pages seem to have accurate Insights and Impressions.

And I dislike the new Group layout, but that's another story altogether. Though, one question: How can a group exist without an information tab? I still think the functionality of Groups and Pages should be merged.

4 comments:

Dannon Loveland said...

Thanks for the post. I have had issues with Facebook pages recently as well. Linking Twitter with Facebook is not an option on the new pages. I think Facebook wants everyone who has pages to buy ads in order to get likes.

Preston said...

If this is the case, think of the ramifications. There are entire ad campaigns built around being able to freely Suggest Pages to Friends. Many people will be infuriated by this.

Jonas said...

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Virtual Property makes big bucks

Ookami said...

Hi Preston. I saw on your profile on LinkenIn that you went to IUB for your masters in Multimedia Communication. Was that in the journalism department? I am looking to break into literary agency, and it would be a perfect masters degree to get started. Thank you!