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April 21, 2010

Facebook Pages, Community Pages and Your Nonprofit

SnshotFacebook likes to keep you guessing.  Just when you figure out your Facbook News Feed, they completely change it.  Just when you thought you were a "Fan", suddenly you just "like" something.  It's the price we pay for a free service working like mad to stay profitable, provide more value to users, and encourage brands, businesses and orgs to further embrace the platform.  In the last week they have announced a raft of changes that will impact how your non-profit uses Facebook today and in the future.

In case you missed it, Facebook recently announced "Community Pages".  Here's what you need to know

  1. Pages = Official brands, businesses, orgs; Community Pages = everything else
  2. Functional differences:  Community pages won't generate stories in your News Feed.  Owners of the page have less control.  Anyone can post on the wall, the info may end up being populated by wikipedia, and, if it becomes popular enough, it may get converted so that it is fully owned/controlled by the community (or at least that's what will happen according to Mashable).

What this means for your nonprofit:  Focus on your official Facebook Page - it's the most important thing your org owns in Facebook and allows you to better communicate with your, people who "like" you.  However, Facebook is clearly betting that community pages are likely to become a place where people discuss topics of mutual interest.  Nonprofits will want to find, tune in, and contribute to these community streams where appropriate.  In some cases, nonprofits may want to start their own community pages to help kick start the conversation or encourage it's development in a certain way.  For example, an environmental non-profit may want to begin updating "Fight Global Warming" or "Coal".


Facebook is also rolling out some changes to individual profiles connecting them more tightly to Pages and Community Pages.  Soon users will be asked to "opt-in to new connections".  Essentially, Facebook is going to look at your stated interests and "affiliations" and suggest Pages (of both types) that you can link to your profile.  Your likes and interests will then be linked to these pages.  (For more information on how it will look, check out Mashable's coverage.)

What this means for your nonprofit:  This is still a very new feature and adoption by Facebook users on a massive scale is unclear.  What is clear, however, is that Facebook is attempting to make the profile more dynamic and using as a platform to help expose Pages and Community pages to new users.  This could be good for your organization if your supporters have identified themselves with your organization - making it easier for your supporters' friends to find you and see which of their other friends are fans (or, err, likers).  It also means, unfortunately, that you will need to spend more time finding and monitoring Community Pages that relate to what you do.   


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Joel - Obviously Facebook has a lot going for it now but I'm wondering if users feel overwhelmed with staying current and "maintaing" this website collaboration tool. I expect many will look to outsource this effort, but then that's xtra costs to already strained budgets. So, what began and appears as a "free" online tool now becomes a funding drain. Thoughts?

Some users undoubtedly feel overwhelmed, but Facebook's growth is increasing exponentially, so my bet is that most still find it as being the best tool for connecting to their friends. I don't think individuals will pay to have people manage their Facebook presence, but organizations might. Although eventually, the vast majority of NPOs will make working on FB and social web a normal part of business especially as it starts to integrate more tightly with programmatic goals and fundraising.

I still can't figure out how to find a community page. This is all very confusing. Not to mention, the community pages you linked to are just overrun with spam. Who needs that headache?

It is confusing. I suspect the reason it's confusing is that from a end-user perspective, they don't distinguish between a Page and a Community Page, so FB doesn't separate them and you can't search for one versus the other. Some of the examples I chose were regular pages, but they will, I'm certain, be converted to community pages eventually.

Great observation on the spam - if people feel the same way too often about community pages, the idea may require some major tweaking by FB to make it more user friendly.

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Facebook pages are a great way to promote your local business. An untapped resource

I have seen facebook make a world of difference to local businesses too. Its a must in todays society.

I've never heard of it. This innovation is really handy. Thanks for info.

facebook, along with all the other social media giants, will always be a necessity for online businesses especially for a get ex back miss out on alot of if youre not using it

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Hey grrrreat stuff nice to follow you so much

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Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them.

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I love the new changes in Facebook. Makes it more fun. No chance for Google+.

I'm not really a fan of the new changes in Facebook. But I guess I'll be getting used to them.

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