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How Facebook Community Pages Undermine Nonprofit’s Official Pages in Facebook Searches

April 30, 2010

Today is Arbor Day. I wanted to promote the the National Arbor Day’s Facebook Page on the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page. So, I searched Facebook for “Arbor Day” and three Pages came up:

1) Arbor Day :: 79 Likes:

2) National Arbor Day Foundation :: 99 Likes:

3) Arbor Day :: 2 Likes:

My first thought: Hmmm… the logo is weird on all the Pages. And Wikipedia Tabs? What? Oh… so this is what a Community Page looks like.

My second thought: Strange… I know the National Arbor Day Foundation has an Twitter profile (@ArborDay), but not a Facebook Page? That didn’t seem likely, so I went to Google to search “Arbor Day Facebook”. And yes, in fact they do an have an official Page with 4,385 Likes:

It just doesn’t come up in the Top 3 Search Results. You have to click “See More Results for arbor day” and then “Pages” on the left to find the Official Page:

Even if you search for “Arbor Day Foundation” still only the Community Page comes up in the Top Results (that pop-down), not the Official Page started, promoted and maintained by National Arbor Day Foundation. The same thing happened with Big Brothers, Big Sisters: [1,752 Likes]
[10,973 Likes] [Official Page]

And WaterAid: [6 Likes] [4,793] [Official Page]

All of those nonprofits have “Official Pages” with large numbers of “Likes”, yet they didn’t come up in the Top 3 Search Results. The much less popular, out-of-their control Community Pages did.

For other nonprofits that I currently Like or have Liked in the past, their Official Pages show up in the Top Search Results (in this case it expands to 6), but so do Community Pages:

At the top of the results: [Official]

Then these Community Page for the Nature Conservancy follow (all created by Facebook):

So nonprofits, it looks like you have some competition on Facebook. That competition would be… Facebook. I suggest all of you do a search on Facebook (from someone else’s computer who does not “Like” your organization’s Official Page and never has) to find out if you have a Community Page that you were not aware of, and then stay tuned for updates on whether there’s anything you can do about it. Filling out the Authentification Form may help, but at this point no one is really sure. Will keep you posted. In the meantime, please also see:

Why Facebook Community Page could be bad news for brands

The Problem With Community Pages

Facebook Hates Your Brand

Related Links:
Four Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Reconsider Facebook
ATTN Nonprofits: Do Not Create Community Pages!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. kkish permalink
    May 1, 2010 8:48 am

    I noticed this the other day as well and agree this can undermine an org’s official page in search. Is the FB Authentication Page to which you’ve linked used to authenticate the fan page or a community page? And how do you navigate to that form on Facebook — i.e., where is it linked from?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      May 2, 2010 7:09 am

      Hi… it is to authenticate a Fan Page… and you are only supposed to be prompted to authenticate when your Fan Page gets popular, but I know of two Pages – one with 50 fans, and one with 118 Fans – that were prompted. You get an email from Facebook. My guess is the two Pages prompted also had Community Pages that were generated by Facebook… that’s why they were prompted.

      Honestly, as I do more research… the news just gets worse and worse. I can’t even keep up with it. Found out another thing about Community Pages this morning that I hope to blog about this week. No other way to put it… Facebook has just totally screwed the very people help build the site. Nonprofits, companies, small businesses, etc. that have been promoting their Pages. I always thought that Facebook intentionally limited the Page toolset so you would have to promote the Page off Facebook… bringing them them millions of new users. Now… wow… I am even shocked as how underhanded and arrogant they are behaving. It’s really confusing, so not many bloggers have really caught on yet to what is going on… but it’s bubbling up in the business and music sectors. They are pissed. To put it lightly. 🙂 And nonprofits should be too.

  2. May 4, 2010 4:30 pm

    This is, indeed, one of the many frustrations of the Facebook Community Pages. Like you, I don’t understand why the page with the most followers/”likes” doesn’t show up in the top 3 for a search.

    (I work in higher ed, blogged about some different angles related to Facebook Community Pages.)

  3. May 5, 2010 6:10 am

    I noticed that Bears on Patrol has a community page in addition to our fan page. I’m wondering if that’s a bad thing or not. Part of our goal is to help you and promote your efforts to provide bears to your local police. We don’t have to always be the ones working directly with the police departments. I’m thinking it’s ok to have the page which is a compilation of everyone on Facebook talking about their efforts to provide bears. I also noticed that you can link to a Wikipedia article about your cause. We don’t have one, and I noticed that Wiki doesn’t want you to write the page about your own organization.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      May 5, 2010 6:30 am

      Well.. it is hard to explain, but when individuals now link/merge their personal profiles on Facebook (have you got that message from Facebook?)… it is linked to the Community Page, not the Official Page… so Community Pages are now growing faster than Official Pages. I guess it depends on how many Fans you (in the general sense) have… if you spent years, money, resources, time acquiring fans… promoting Facebook and your Page, then you should be mad as heck.

      Facebook “sold” nonprofits a product… and now they have done a 180 and completely undermined that very product. Read the other articles linked here from the business and higher ed sectors. They are angry… and calling lawyers. Yet the nonprofit sector is strangely quiet. Usually it is the other way around… nonprofits are the first to cry foul.

      What if they don’t say nice things on your Community Page? The Internet has turned quite nasty these days. A lot of angry, unemployed trolls out there spending time ranting nastiness on Pages. I have to delete at least two a day now. Good you are flexible, but Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. could never get away with this. We all love Facebook, but maybe a little too much. 🙂

      I am just curious if now Community Pages will show up in Google searches over Official Pages?

      • Michelle Watkins permalink
        May 6, 2010 8:08 am

        I’m finding this very, very frustrating! With these forced Connections, it sure would be nice for all of our employees’ profiles to link to our actual Fan Page, don’t you think? For a smaller, still-building Fan Page, it makes even less sense to me that Facebook created a (completely blank) Community Page for us. Why go to the trouble? Why not just recognize the official Fan Page? They are making more work for themselves creating a dummy-page, not to mention all of us. Why not wait until a topic has enough demonstrated activity to warrant a Community Page for discussion? Or at the very least, wait to publish the Community Page until they at *least populate it with a link to the org’s site and/or wikipedia! (This is assuming a need for Community Pages at all, of which I have yet to be convinced.) Arg!

      • nonprofitorgs permalink
        May 6, 2010 8:18 am

        I agree. I am baffled by it, because it doesn’t even make sense for FB’s advertising model. Admins for Official Pages buy the ads… why alienate the Admins? I don’t understand their thinking on this. Will it make Admins buy more advertising if they see the Community Page is growing faster (through forced Connections which I have had a chance to blog about yet)? I don’t think so. Very strange decision on their part… unless there is more coming that we don’t know about – which is seemingly always the case with Facebook.

  4. May 6, 2010 7:51 am

    After reading this I did a search and found that my nonprofit also has a community page. So far there is only one fan, so there is no content yet. My question is – will the Community page be deleted by filling out the authentication form?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      May 6, 2010 7:55 am

      The Authentication Form is for Official Pages that get downgraded to Community Pages because they are a Cause, Issue, etc. So far… I have not found a way to request to have a Community Page deleted. Facebook has created over 65,000,000 of them. No one knows if Community Pages can be deleted upon request. I really doubt it. They do not have the staff to review millions of requests. We’ll have to see how this evolves…

  5. May 6, 2010 12:45 pm

    We are also very worried and unhappy about this. The Community Pages do aggregate mentions in status updates, which would be great to be able to add to our page or as a tab. But otherwise, it’s just keeping people away from one of our main communication tools.

  6. May 8, 2010 6:28 pm

    My friend referred me to your blog, so I thought I’d come have a read. Very interesting material, will be back for more!

    • kkish permalink
      May 11, 2010 10:07 am

      Social Media Today just did a piece on this as well. They come at it more from a corporate perspective than a non-profit one, but they share many of the same concerns. Among their statements: “This is about the world’s largest social network encouraging companies to set up shop on their network and to invest in their presence there, then pulling the rug out from under their feet and launching a new aspect to the network that dilutes the investment for those companies.”

      • nonprofitorgs permalink
        May 11, 2010 10:32 am

        Exactly. Facebook pulled the ol’ bait and switch on all of us. I am puzzled that the nonprofit sector has had almost no reaction. Strangely silent about it. Not the case with the business sector. Thanks.

  7. May 11, 2010 9:08 am

    Let’s remember that search functionality changes over time. Fb’s search options have always been sub-par. Social sites are not search engines. If SEO is your goal, Facebook is not a solution. Now, if you want to push out to where your users are, social sites provide a channel that can be integrated into your other channels (web site, email lists, print media, etc).

  8. January 20, 2011 1:47 pm

    Well, surprise. Is Facebook a non-profit organization? No, Facebook is for-profit. Facebook will gladly accept the traffic your organization brings, but why should Facebook care about sending you traffic? Read the TOS, Facebook doesn’t owe you anything.

    Understand the difference between a for-profit organization, which exists to make money, and a non-profit organization, which must obtain money to exist, but has other higher reasons for existence.

    Think about the fact that Microsoft and Goldman-Sachs are the major investors in Facebook. Do these companies have a reputation for playing fair, or simply for playing to win?


  1. ATTN Nonprofits: Do Not Create Facebook Community Pages! « Nonprofit Tech 2.0
  2. Four Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Reconsider Facebook « Nonprofit Tech 2.0
  3. Odds Are, Your Nonprofit Has a Facebook Community Page :: Find It, Claim It, and Link It to Your Official Page « Nonprofit Tech 2.0
  4. Mashable: How Facebook’s Community Pages and Privacy Changes are Impacting Brands « Ljjspeaks's Blog
  5. How Facebook’s ‘Community Pages’ and Privacy Changes Impact Brands « Bytes Hotdish
  6. ATTN Facebook Admins: Changes to the Static FBML App That You Need to Know About « Nonprofit Tech 2.0
  7. Matrix: How Facebook’s ‘Community Pages’ and Privacy Changes Impact Brands « El Weblog de infragon
  8. HOW TO: Update Your Nonprofit’s Wikipedia Page (and Why You Should) « Nonprofit Tech 2.0

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