An Open Letter to Facebook

I started this letter before f8, so for the record, it’s not about anything new. However, it even holds more water as a result. While Facebook is introducing new developments, they are losing sight of the old issues that are mostly “broken” or that have not yet been addressed. As such, this letter serves the purpose of reminding Facebook that they should focus on current affairs — especially for businesses — before launching new initiatives.

Dear Facebook,

I’ve been your buddy since you were open to a handful of select universities and were called thefacebook.com. In fact, you can validate that by cross checking my user ID, 102991, which should indicate that I’ve been around for a real long time (since February 2004, to be more precise). And though I signed up when I was a recent college graduate, I’ve been an addict for quite awhile and even was impressed by the early app offerings, consistently applauding many of your developments. So you see, my complaints to you are that of someone who has been with you through and through. I like you, Facebook, I do. You’re kind of fun. Usually.

I have to tell you, then, that I wasn’t a huge fan of you opening your doors up to everyone. Yup, it’s true. I was a Facebook purist in its former form and I liked having access to select group of exclusive folks knowing that these were trusted people and that only certain groups of individuals were allowed to have access. It felt good to be exclusive. I, like other “students” at the time, always thought Facebook wouldn’t “sell out” and become an open platform.

But Facebook, you did open your doors to the world, and we all got used to it. Facebook’s goal to be the social network of choice for all was a lofty one, but I gotta hand it to you, Facebook — it was a big deal, and let’s be honest here, it made lots of sense. I can’t blame you for wanting to be accessible to everyone everywhere. After a good amount of time, in fact, I was trying to convince my entire family to sign up. My grandfather, one of Facebook’s holdouts, even created his first account (finally!) after my convincing appearance on The Agenda on TVO in February 2010.

Facebook announced Facebook Pages, too, for businesses to have a real presence. And here’s where the real problem starts. By then, Facebook, you were so big that you didn’t have the staff to accommodate the requests and inquiries — some which are quite legitimate and require personalized attention — that resulted as a consequence of being more open to businesses. With the initiative for Facebook to be open and to empower businesses to host pages that celebrate their business, offering deals and giving the community the ability to converse directly with the business or entity these pages represent, you forgot about accountability.

Where Did My Facebook Page Go?

I’ve heard about dozens of businesses who created Facebook Pages, pouring their hearts and souls and development hours into crafting content and attracting new fans, only to find out that their account disappears without a trace. Some ask me directly for help; I’m not Facebook and I do not have any answers.

Neither does Facebook, apparently.

When these individuals ask Facebook why their Facebook Page was deleted, they are met with silence. Sure, you have staffers to respond to the requests, but it seems that you refuse to. Your standard messaging goes to the effect of “Unfortunately, we are unable to respond to every [concern] individually, but we are reading them.” I get that, but this isn’t just a casual encounter anymore. With Facebook being the social destination of choice, these pages are businesses’ lifelines. Facebook, you’re cutting them where it hurts and you don’t even care to respond to these panic-stricken individuals who have to pour in hours of work, money, and time again to make things right.

It’s sad, really.

It would be sadder if someone built a brand new Facebook Page only to find out that Facebook canned it a second time. That would be really unfortunate. Maybe instead, Facebook, you can respond to the original concern so that the businesses learn from their mistakes.

Personally, I worry that our memories are being lost in digital oblivion, never to be easily recalled or referenced by us — especially with the threat to the long-term viability of our accounts.

Wait, that’s it?

If this was the only problem related to Facebook, I guess this post really wouldn’t have a place. After all, it’s a similar issue to Robert Scoble’s when Facebook disabled his account two years ago. Many individuals have had their accounts cancelled for violations of the Terms of Service.

Or maybe there weren’t TOS violations at all. Who knows. A lot of people don’t seem to be breaking any rules but see their accounts and Pages gone.

Except there’s more.

Permanent Administrators

Here’s another situation I recently encountered. Through a digital agency and with full approval from a client, I was tasked with building up the client’s Facebook presence. Consequently, I was the original creator of the Fan Page. Well, if you know about how it works with agencies, you know that this stuff is campaign-based, and when the campaign ends, you really don’t belong as the page admin anymore. If you’re not involved with the client any further, why should you still have access to the page and all the data? So, after several months, the client asked me to remove myself as an admin.

The thing is, and I wish I knew this earlier, you can’t. The Page creator — the original Page administrator — cannot remove himself. At all. So I emailed Facebook, only to receive a generic acknowledgment saying that I might not receive a response. Well, great. With Facebook’s track record, I knew that, and I kind of respect that given the volume of junk reports they likely get that are answered in Facebook’s help documents. But yet, to this day, Facebook has done nothing about it — which would make sense from your perspective, Facebook, because you’ve covered yourself via your help documents. However, you need to start seeing it from others’ shoes.

I’ve no hard feelings against the client and therefore they’re lucky that I’m the admin of the page as I won’t do anything hurtful now that I have no client relationship with them. But let’s just say that the main admin of a big brand’s page or other type of page leaves the company on bad terms and defaces or even removes the Facebook Page. Now what? Whose fault was it? We have no resources available to us to remove the main person as the administrator. This can translate to very horrible things down the road.

You see where I’m getting with this.

Engaging on the Pages Themselves

Let’s take another issue that more people can relate to. I’m the admin of a few Facebook Pages. Sometimes I want to respond to these pages on behalf of the business that powers that Facebook Page. Sometimes I want to respond as me, myself, and I, Tamar Weinberg, Facebook ID 102991. But if I’m the admin of a page, I can’t respond as me. I can only respond as the business/entity powering that Facebook Page. Why, Facebook, can’t you give me the option to represent myself?

And now that I’m an admin of that client page, well, what if I wanted to engage on the actual page on behalf of myself? I can’t! I HAVE to respond on behalf of the company, even though I’m not at all affiliated with the company anymore.

I’ve seen similar issues with news outlets, especially those with postings that are authored by multiple writers. If you’re the admin of the Facebook Page but want to comment on a posted article, you can only do so as the Page owner, not as an actual participant in the conversation. Essentially, the communication appears to be coming from an official capacity.

I have a colleague who maintains two Facebook accounts — one where he can respond on behalf of the business represented on the Facebook Page and one where he can be himself (transparently, of course). Oh wait, is that against your Terms of Service? You don’t really give business owners a choice. No wonder you have 400 million members. I wonder how many of those are actually unique users.

Removing Fans

Here’s another interesting issue. The only way to remove a fan on Facebook is to click “Fans” and then find the user to remove him/her. Let’s just say you were tasked with doing this on a Facebook page that has hundreds of thousands of fans. Yes, you’d have to manually go through the list, hitting Next, Next, Next, and Next again until you find it … 30 years later.

Seriously, Facebook? You can’t give us a search box?


Contests? What?

Okay, maybe there’s a reason for this, but I never found out, and to this day most of us really have no idea. Just a few months ago, you removed the ability for businesses to easily run contests on Facebook pages. The stipulations that surround contest hosting on Facebook at this present time actually benefit big brands and not small companies who are looking to build their presence on the network. Apparently, Page owners have to ask permission but only if they are spending a lot of money on Facebook Ads.

Sure, Facebook, we get it. You have your reasons for doing this, and they’re probably financially driven, but why not be honest about why you shut so many people out? Why not work with small businesses and those affected most by this policy change to find something that would work better for them that does not complicate the process or require a substantial financial investment? Believe it or not, even with my minimal reach, I’ve been asked about Facebook contests from businesses of all sizes dozens of times. People want to do it right without fear of being punished and losing their hard-earned Facebook Page.

Why did you have to change your terms to kill the potential for businesses to use promotions to shine on Facebook? Most people explicitly join Facebook because they want exclusives, deals, and freebies. Way to take much of that away.

If this decision was financially motivated, perhaps you should have just charged money for the ability for a business to create a Fan Page versus forcing them to spend money on ads before contest permission is granted. Maybe then it would have solved the issue about the permanent administrators. Only people truly financially invested in their companies would actually pay to create Facebook Pages, after all.

Are you Listening, Facebook?

Where, Facebook, can we request these legitimate improvements, and more importantly, will you really listen? I know I’ve made several requests of numerous individual staffers before, but apparently I’m a nobody whose requests deserve not a single listen, despite the fact that I’m not speaking for myself. Facebook needs to improve upon itself instead of innovating with uselessness.

Maybe it’s time to be attentive to these concerns and not shut them out. After all, this time, they’re not complaining about news feeds. Facebook, when you open to everyone, you need to have ears and listen to everyone. Sometimes the concerns are actually legitimate. From what we’ve gathered, the people behind these support forms are junior staff who don’t pass on requests to senior staff, and that’s why nothing gets done.

Facebook, it might actually be a good idea sometimes to listen to your users. When you’re a platform for businesses, having a mutually beneficial relationship could even be a good idea. So, Facebook, when are you going to have a Business Center that regularly communicates with owners of small businesses or larger businesses who don’t place ad buys on your network? I’m aware of your larger-scale relationships with businesses with deep pockets, but not every business is there yet or feels comfortable in the social space. Perhaps creating and fostering relationships can help make it better for everyone involved. Being responsive, though, is a critical first step.

Facebook, I (we) ask that you start valuing business entities and not ignore those who might not be in a financial position to invest with you (yet!). They might not be the lifeblood of your site, but they’re definitely driving more users to the network, which we hope actually helps your bottom line.

Readers, Now it’s Your Turn

What other flaws have you found in the way Facebook handles its relationship with businesses? Readers, the comments are yours.

207 Comments

  • Barbara Oliver says:

    Just stupidity and arrogance. Sad, since FB
    offers so much of value. Eventually, we will
    all have the opp to jump ship – in just one
    click. Thanks to all the social media gurus who
    work so hard to help unravel the ever-evolving
    mysteries of FB

  • Dana says:

    Thanks, Tamar. You’ve spelled out perfectly the frustrations I encounter constantly when working on behalf of nonprofits with Facebook pages.

    I can only hope that the more these frustrations are aired and talked about, Facebook will be less and less able to ignore them. They are fairly simple changes, after all, but ones that would make our lives immensely better!

  • Adam Metz says:

    Sure, Tamar, many of the new developments in the last few years are not great for small business (marcom/ad budgets under $100k), but even SME brands won’t blink an eye at having to become a basic Facebook advertiser ($600-1200/year). For a multinational, their large account category ($1.2M+ annual spend) is no big deal. Small brands are just going to have to go multi-channel, get way smarter, and begin using “verified” contesting solutions like Wildfire or Strutta (disclaimer: Metz Partner company). Will this mean that they’ll have to spend $5k/year to reach their Facebook Fans? Probably. Will they drive $50-500k in business from that investment? Unless top-down social business strategy totally stinks, yes.

    • Yup Adam, I’m aware. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair for small brands to have to work harder simply because they can’t pony up the dough. Just my $0.02.

  • Jonathan Evans says:

    Tamar, loved your letter to Facebook. I have encountered another FB fan page issue: as owner of travel agency start-up I cannot get the fan page address until I have 25+ fans (it used to be higher in the past)…ridiculous arbitrary number…why can’t I give a fan page address directly to potential customers? Really makes me wonder if they care at all.

    • Hi Jonathan, really good point. I have to agree with you to a point — I think 25 fans is actually legitimate. Otherwise, people would randomly create fan pages and with no fans, claim a coveted usernames. This is a reasonable safeguard.

      It really should not be hard to get an initial 25 users if you ask your colleagues, family, and customers (note that I didn’t say friends!) to join.

      I know it’s not 100% ideal, but I actually do see Facebook’s point on this.

      My big personal complaint related to this was Facebook claiming that “Tamar” was a trademark even though it’s a first name. I want Facebook to look at this guy on Twitter.

      • Jonathan Evans says:

        Good interaction here on your site. However, your comment back to me missed my point: Fb wants me to interact on their site, personally and professionally, yet when I make an attempt to bring my professional connections onto Fb, they make it restrictive with an arbitrary requirement…why can’t I even get a site address? It’s not the 25 subscribers, it’s the silly “you don’t get a site address until we think you are legitimate”…what other internet entity says you can’t use an address for using their product (i.e fan pages)?

  • Tamar, right on point! I empathize with the very same frustrations, specifically the admin/personal response, and the obscene dollars we have to spend just to get a rep at FB to white list a contest we want to run. So basically if you don’t spend the minimum, they won’t look at your client’s account, which means that you won’t gain approval for a contest. Unless they have recently changed it, I did not see any rules specifically addressing this issue of meeting a minimum paid campaign for a rep to white list a contest. I have debated doing a blog or video on this, but Im glad you contributed!

    • Ruben, I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve heard from businesses who are having a difficult time getting their contest running without paying Facebook. (No wonder why they’re profitable now!)

      The linked-to article came from Social Media Examiner where they mention in point #10 that you need to be spending a significant amount of money on ads monthly to proceed along the contest route. It’s really unfortunate.

  • Thank you for addressing some of my main concerns with Facebook pages – especially not being able to remove the owner or transfer ownership. This leads people to create a page based off of a business account rather than a personal profile. But then they discover that that type of page can’t be customized with static fbml, etc … the way that ones associated with personal profiles can be.

    And then FB keeps adding things, changing things that aren’t broken, moving menu items around but continues to “ignore” the bigger problems and they don’t have the support staff needed to address these problems.

    A business center is a wonderful idea.

    • Oh, Kim, don’t get me started. I saw a restaurant I’d love to become a Fan of, except that the restaurant decided to create a personal profile. I sent him a message requesting that he create an actual account, and he totally neglected me. The lack of communication was disconcerting, but worse, it’s really Facebook’s fault. And now there are Community Pages! Who the heck needs it?

      The “Business Center” Facebook has is only for people who spend money. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was open to all businesses? It’s such a nice idea.

  • Randy Stuck says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this post. I wasn’t even aware of the contest rules and I guess I am extremely lucky that multiple clients haven’t been locked out of Facebook…

    I too was one of the early adopters in 2004 (UCI!!!) and I felt the same way as you did. I loved FB because it wasn’t myspace and wasn’t full of junk, spam and porn and when it opened to everyone, i was afraid it would become just like that.

    Basically, Facebook thinks they can run a similar model to Google, not having live customer service. The difference is at least Google will reply to emails (even if they don’t really ever make changes…)

  • Jamie Telin says:

    I agree on every point.

  • Tamar you totally hit the nail on the head here. As the admin for several Facebook pages as well, I deal with the exact same issues every day. As a general Facebook user, I honestly don’t have too many complaints. I don’t run into a lot of issues, other than how difficult they make it to make privacy changes and remove/change apps and such. But as an admin, it can be quite painful! Thanks again for this post, and my co-workers just looked at me funny as I yelled “halla-fricken-luya”! :)

  • I read this article with a smile on my face. I cannot believe some of the things you touched on. You are so right! By the way – Twitter really needs to put a search box in their following/followers pages for the same reason!!! next…next…next… arg!

    • Karen Gutierrez says:

      Heather, I just had to say: Right on re the ability to search your Twitter follwers/followees. I say this to myself just about every day.

    • LOL, that’s a really good point.

      Some of my loopholes around that are:
      * http://doesfollow.com
      * and just navigating to the person’s homepage to see if I can DM them.

      Not ideal, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for but it works!

      • Karen Gutierrez says:

        I like doesfollow, thanks for that tip. What I would really like to see is a way to search the tweets of just your followees for something you remember them saying, KWIM? I seem to have this need at least a few times a week.

  • Jeff Shearer says:

    Working in an agency that builds these pages for our clients, we actually had a crisis a few months back where a large chunk of the pages we created were mysteriously removed. Luckily, one of us knew someone who worked at Facebook, and after much pain and suffering, we managed to get the majority of the mistakenly (Facebook’s fault) deleted pages restored again.

    Being unable to remove the creator is also baffling, especially since it was allowed before. There is so much broken with Facebook pages, and this letter spells it out perfectly!

    • Isn’t it nice to have an “in” with Facebook? It helps so much. Wouldn’t it be even nicer if everyone had the same resources?

      I know a few people at Facebook, but apparently I don’t know the people who value this input or those who can really effectuate change. Or maybe they just don’t care to listen.

      A few months ago, Dave McClure wrote a Facebook suggestion on his Facebook wall and CC’d a friend he knew who works there. I decided to “hijack” the thread with my own suggestions. Didn’t work. The suggestions are in this post, so they clearly haven’t been implemented.

  • Karen Gutierrez says:

    Thanks for the thorough, well-written post. I agree on all points and will add a couple:

    – The strangeness of the “business account” situation for setting up pages. Our business acccount suddenly began displaying the personal name of our page designer – cookies, we presume – and we cannot find a way to remove his name. He’s with an agency and his relationship with the page will end eventually, plus we’re trying to be good citizens and follow Facebook’s own rules for having business accounts.

    We’ve already started over once, deleting the email, original business account and our page itself in an attempt to start fresh. We were good for a couple weeks and then his name popped onto the business account again.

    This is just a small thing, obviously. But it’s the accumulation of small things that’s so odd about a company as powerful as Facebook. There is no one to ask about the business account problem, and no place in the help pages that addresses it. Oh well.

    – Lack of information about security. To some extent, obviously, Facebook doesn’t want to say too much. But with 400 million users and some big brands on board, there ought to be a way to get some answers to the standard info-security questions that large, regulated corporations have.

    Thanks again for the succinct summary of the Facebook conundrum.

    (Note: I work in social media for a large company, but my views are my own, not the company’s.)

  • Analisa says:

    Tamar, this letter expresses some of the frustrations I have been feeling for many months now as an admin of multiple business pages! If Facebook wants to sell more ads, shouldn’t they take care of these tiny issues with big repercussions and make it more appealing for companies to be on Facebook?!!?
    Sometimes it feels like Pages were just a big experiment for Facebook and they never quite finished developing them to be a fully-functioning feature of their platform. Now there are hundreds of thousands of people who reply on them for business and I guess we can’t really blame Facebook…I mean, they never promised to be perfect :)

  • aaronaut says:

    love it, love it, love it.

    facebook has completely forgotten that they exist only because people use them, if they had no users, they would go the way of the league of nations.

    i could only add that i hate all the new site connectivity, i’m finding all these sites that are linked to my facebook account, that i never authorized, and it’s frustrating that facebook sees my information as THIER information to do with as they please.

    i also made a discovery upon visiting facebook today originally to once again check some privacy settings, in spite of facebook’s prior statement regarding regions and networks, a prompt window appeared forcing me to join at least ONE of several groups, and if i didn’t facebook was going to remove the info on my page relevant to all said groups, yeah, lovely.

    i’m about ready to give facebook the boot

    • What kind of sites are linked to your Facebook account? I saw a strange app I never authorized under my apps and was wondering how it got there. I emailed FB about it but they did not respond. Is that a similar issue?

      Hopefully Facebook will listen so that you don’t give it the boot!

  • Facebook wasn’t originally designed to help businesses. Maybe its too much to expect it to shift its strategy, especially when focusing on consumers has been so successful.

    • Yup Lateef — that’s why the whole beginning of this letter speaks about me, the college graduate, using Facebook — when it was only open to 3 schools.

      They eventually opened to everyone, though, and now they’re kind of obligated to listen. Or not. That just means people will be writing open letters. ;)

  • Wildfire, a third party administrator seems to be the best way around the contest issue. They wrote a blog post on it when Facebook came out with the promotion guidelines late last year. Of course, I can’t get Facebook to verify this. Here is the post, http://blog.wildfireapp.com/2009/11/16/navigating-the-new-facebook-promotions-guidelines/

    • Thanks Ruben. I heard about that but I haven’t explored their implementation. I need to speak with them!

      • Its a good option, but I would stay away from video contests until they improve on it. Currently for video contests, the manipulation of the UI was bit too limiting for me, but if its a standard entry, I’d recommend it.

  • OMG this is so spot-on I could cry! I really, really, really hope someone at Facebook starts listening and takes this advice because otherwise business activity will plateau and then plummet and they’ll be out of luck. I’ve blogged about these same issues before, and have started seeing more posts about the administrator thing, so hopefully Facebook might actually listen this time and take some of this to heart.

    The thing that drives me the craziest about the Page creator thing is that Facebook has devised one workaround: the business account–but it basically forces you to violate their TOS, so you’re still in danger of losing your page. The whole thing just makes no sense at all.

    The thing is that a creator CAN be removed from a page; I have a friend who somehow got a FB employee to delete her company’s Page creator after that person was terminated so the Page just had admins but no creator. I believe I’ve also heard agency people with connections to FB get personalized service like that–so it is possible to do.

    I don’t know if it’s that they’re so busy innovating that they haven’t had time to worry about stuff like support or they are just too arrogant and think they’re untouchable, but I think it’s a horrible business move on their part to be doing what they’re doing–e.g. ignoring all of us. Sure, they’re on top of the world right now, today, but is that always going to be the case? Of course not.

    • I agree, Maggie. This does make no sense.

      I know that a Facebook Page creator can be removed but you need to know the right people. When people go through the appropriate avenues (I used Facebook’s Help form), they are ignored. You need to know someone at Facebook in order to get things done.

      I personally do know people at Facebook, but I’m not about to jump through hoops. These aren’t mission critical for me, so I don’t desperately need direct help. They are important, though.

  • Rachel Vincent says:

    1. The only way I have found to be able to comment on a page is to make a post from your own page, mentioning the business page (i.e. @mashable or @kikini), which will then subsequently show up on the business wall with your name next to it, not as the company itself. However, this doesn’t allow comments on specific posts within the business page wall.

    2. In the customized audience portion of wall posts on business pages, I’d like to be able to customize not only by location and language, but by age as well.

    3. I would like better analytics in the page insights section to be able to directly compare post quality and interactions on the site with the demographics of the fans (new fans, unsubscribed fans, page views, etc). Right now the two graphs on the page insights section are difficult to compare because they deal with totally different time frames. This limits my ability to improve my page according to what the fans respond to.

    4. I would like to know how many of the fans actually see the wall posts in their newsfeeds vs. have decided to ignore those newsfeeds.

    Perhaps some of this is available at higher numbers of fans, as the highest one I manage currently has shy of 5000 fans, but in that case, I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be available to smaller pages as well.

    Oh, I also agree wholeheartedly with all of your suggestions. :)

  • Tamar, I’m loving this post. I spent almost my entire morning researching Facebook’s new Community Pages, how they work, and how they will affect businesses that already have lovely Fan Pages. While I shouldn’t be shocked by Facebook’s lack of communication or help info, I was still saddened by it. Thank goodness Facebook allows us to discuss help topics within the Help area. It’s through the community members that I was able to start piecing together this strange and confusing community page puzzle.

    • Ashley, excellent point. Facebook has a Help area that is community powered. :)

      Still, though, there are so many issues that the community cannot address… Facebook, it’s your turn to step up!

  • Phil Monk says:

    I’ve just discovered the same thing as Jonathan, we started a fan page and have some silly long link that looks horrible and is not memorable at all. I also know of several others whose fan page went missing overnight, there’s been no explanation of why the pages went missing and no way of getting them back.

    I agree with you Tamar, that given the sheer number of people who must contact FB and the amount of spam they must get, it’s hard to reply to everyone, but not to address the issues at all is just poor and reflects poorly on Facebook. It would be easy to update a blog post or help file. Maybe Facebook don’t actually know why although I find that difficult to believe.

    On a side note, I don’t think they make the admin of fan pages particularly easy, but that might be an end user problem! :)

    • Hi Phil, thanks for posting this here. :)

      I think that Facebook needs to start hiring people who will be responsive to legitimate issues as they relate specifically to Facebook Pages maintained by businesses. It’s totally true that it reflects poorly on Facebook. If they were more responsive, this post would have no place.

      I also agree that administration of Fan Pages aren’t that easy. Whereas Facebook seems to have a simple interface, under the hood, it’s really not that easy to use!

  • I am one of the many who had my Facebook account swept away in my sleep, to wake up and see 2000 friends and fans in the music business gone.
    I wrote to FB and explained to them , I was a music promoter and with further ado, I was reinstated. I appeared as quickly as I had disappeared.
    I am one of the few with a happy ending.

  • Tia Fisher says:

    Hi Tamar

    Wow, this is really opening up some feelings isn’t it? My colleagues and I (Ashley above included) are watching this thread evolve with huge interest. It’s a bit like group therapy ;) .. Hello, my name is Tia and I’m really upset with Facebook …

    Working for a moderation and comm management company, I’ve got a lot of issues with Facebook moderation. The admin tools are rudimentary, and to get anything half way approaching a decent system you have to pay a considerable (I mean *really* considerable) amount to one of the few approved FB developers who are currently getting moderation suites together. For a site which doesn’t allow pre-moderation, this is neither safe nor sensible.

    But that’s old news. My current anguish is trying to figure out where the new Community Pages are leaving our Client’s Fan Pages (are they still called Fan Pages btw?). Do FB alone set up these Community Pages (currently in beta) http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=382978412130? Are fans setting them up? If so, how? Are brands accidentally creating them when allowing associations between pages? http://www.facebook.com/help/?question=478016. How can you search for them and distinguish them from either official brand pages or groups? Why can’t brands leave links on community pages to brand pages (and vice versa?). Any information I can get on this would be most helpful.

    To quote my CEO on Twitter just now: “Why is Facebook morphing like a crazy morphing thing affecting our clients and sanity? ” Why indeed …

    • Group therapy it is! I love this community :)

      I actually think it is still called Fan Pages – but there are ALSO Community Pages. It’s so confusing and I totally hear all of your concerns.

      I think the answers I’ve gathered are:
      * Official pages (e.g. you represent a business) are Fan Pages. In other words, my concern highlighted above is a gray area, because I represent the business for a short term period and eventually give the business the keys.
      * Unofficial pages (e.g. you like something, you want to create a club, whatever) are Community Pages.

      I don’t know the answer to the question about distinguishing between the two pages, which is why I keep criticizing Facebook’s haphazard and seemingly without forethought implementation of Community Pages. There are other issues to address.

    • Karen Gutierrez says:

      Thanks for summarizing the community page confusion. We’ve noticed several new pages on Facebook that carry our registered trademark without our permission. One of these pages says the following at the top: “Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for (XXX), sign up and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help.”
      Besides the “info” tab where this note resides, there’s a “related posts” tab, which appears to be customized for my personal fb account, pulling in posts by my friends (or public posts) that mention the name of the business. A third tab called “wikipedia” appears to be displaying our wikipedia entry verbatim.

      Do other community pages have walls? This one does not.

      Is Facebook in business with wikipedia now? Is it trying to become a wiki? Who created this community page? Tia thanks so much for all the help page links. I’m going to check those out.

      I thought community pages were supposed to be about areas of interest, like “knitting” or “Afghan hounds,” not particular corporations.

  • Rob Baker says:

    Good show, and I hope you successfully catch a pair of ears or two at Facebook about this. Lately, it seems Facebook has passed over into “evil” territory, like so many other sites-that-become-hugely-popular before. A few years ago I wrote to complain about something to Facebook and got a reply right back, and I thanked the fellow for that care, as it was clearly different from the non-care one found on MySpace. At that point I was cheering for them to obliterate them!

    But, most of the time, Facebook is a mystery, even after using it for a few years now. My friends list? I see “Friends” there, and a number — which is the people REQUESTING to be added; not the actual friends list. Why do we have to hunt that simple thing down? And why doesn’t the whole thing make proper sense? I go to my page and see lots of people posting stuff, then I see this weird number up above — click it — and it produces just a lot MORE of people posting stuff that wasn’t displayed before. There is a simple interface to it all which helps non-internet-savvy folks take to it right away — but if you want to do something other than “the usual,” you’re in for some frustration.

    I tried to help someone set up a “fan” page. And I’ve always hated the “fan” concept, because I’d be just as happy to “friend” them as anything, without wanting to publicly declare my loyal fandom of (whatever or whoever it is). And now they’ve changed it to “Like” — really?? Why the heck can’t it just be an “official page” and otherwise, just like any other Facebook page so we don’t have to figure it out? “Like” seems so non-committal. Yeah, I “like” hotdogs but I don’t collect them nor do I make an evening of going out to eat them. I “love” Sandra Bullock and will see almost anything she’s in. Should there also be a “love” button to designate that stronger emotional tie?

    And of course, I’ve written to Facebook a time or two since that first experience, and not gotten any reply at all — even when finding the archived “good” email and responding to that. They have officially become “EVIL.”

    I think people opted for FB over MySpace because of so many of the reasons people are becoming disenchanted with FB right now. It’s becoming glutted and you can’t get good help. I feel outright angry over the idea that now people can “like” external pages via the Facebook connection. Someone recently enthused that they had “liked” Audrey Hepburn’s IMDb page. Audrey Hepburn’s IMDb page does NOT need someone to “LIKE” it! I do not like the idea of “the web” being seen through the eyes of “who on Facebook likes it.” And, it seems there is no “dislike” button — which may be just as well — but that type of feedback is purposeless and useless, especially if all you can do is “like” something. Is there a way to “dislike” the “like” button? No? Figures.

    I caution anyone who decides to invest in Facebook as the “monster new internet thing worth billions of dollars,” because now history has shown that once something becomes “evil,” something ELSE comes along to take its place once enough user dissatisfaction has taken hold. Meanwhile, Facebook, get BACK to “business” letting people set up social pages and write neat little comments back and forth to each other and promote whatever it is they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be complicated! We’ll endure the little ads that pop up along the way because it’s free. I think that’s what most of us will be happy with.

    • Great points, Rob. I’m kind of happy that Mona, Tony, and Sean are working hard on MySpace — I think that there might be some promise for its future.

      • Rob Baker says:

        Oh, one more “fun” thing to add, although not unique to the business element but rather to all users. Facebook really needs to reconfigure its email function. I find that most of the time, messages I send on Facebook don’t seem to be read, and I think it’s because the message flag is so minimized. You get a message, an alert, a friend request, they’re all up in this tiny area together and don’t stand out well. I know it’s not just me being “ignored” as I can send the person a “regular” email and they’ll answer right away! It’s happened much too often, and I feel it may be the fault of the “alerts.” Too many inconsequential alerts come along and you learn to ignore them. Alerts are given the same positioning as emails, so emails suffer the same fate — making such exchanges on Facebook almost pointless to try.

        Would love to know about “Mona, Tony & Sean” and their MySpace efforts – do you have this detailed here as well?

  • Oh man Tamar- you hit all the good ones! I work for an SM agency & I personally admin 7 pages & the page creator issue seems to be one of the biggest & should be a no brainer. I have to say, we reached out to our contacts and FB & they were very responsive & were able to remove the creator of a few of our pages (old employees, interns, etc) but guess what- our clients spend some $$ with them- me thinks that had something to do with it.
    The fan search thing is horribly annoying & again, shouldn’t be difficult to fix but the engagement on behalf of a brand or as an individual is terrible too. We counsel our clients to engage as individuals, not as brand logos – especially given the personal nature of FB and this “feature” doesn’t allow that to happen. A couple more for the list:
    Events- if you set up an event and then it’s over & you want to remove it from the events tab, you can only cancel the event, not simply delete it. If you cancel it, here’s what it says:
    “We will email everyone who was invited that this event has been canceled. You may add a note below if you want:…” – yeah, thanks but no thanks. I guess I’ll leave it up there for now.
    The information box at the tab- why can’t we just get rid of that? Does everyone really need to know what year the company was founded? Or let us at least move it down to the bottom of the sidebar.
    Lastly, notes (and same goes for personally pages), why can’t we only send this to 20 people? As frustrating and next, next, next.
    Thanks for addressing this Tamar- what a great letter. I would LOVE to see them pay attention because quite frankly, these are absolutely fundamental to having a successful “like” (??) page on Facebook!

    • Yup Lindsay, I know. I know some Facebook folks simply because of agency relationships. It’s also why I think I’m making the plea for agencies to send this article onto their Facebook staff contacts. ;)

      Wow, good point on the events. I actually had no idea, but that’s really silly and quite counterintuitive.

      I actually think that Information tab is useful for some. I always want to know a little more about the companies I “fan” on Facebook. But yes, there should be an opt-out for that for sure.

      With Facebook’s limitation on Notes, no wonder they’re so underutilized!

      So good to see you here, Lindsay – and thanks for commenting. :)

  • Adam Gershenbaum says:

    Excellent rundown. This is pretty much every issue. I am fortunate enough to have exchanged cards with the right person, and when accont reps were announced I pretty much begged for a rep and was given one mainly due to the fact that my company has the potential to spend the required ad dollars, not to say we have. And I try to use my ‘favors’ called in to them sparingly because they pretty much remind me that they are an ‘ad rep’ and to let them know when we can nail down some budget. But all in all our rep has been very responsive and helpful so far. When I had questions about how we can use their logos and I submitted the mock ups it said 5-10 business days for approval and I got a response next day. I’m very grateful for that, but at the same time I seriously think it’s a racket to force business’ to spend 10K. It’s no small chunk of change for a small business and even at a company with the potential to spend it, it raises eyebrows to have to attach a 10K price tag to what a lot of execs look at at low hanging fruit, word of mouth, earned media.

  • Cyril says:

    Great Post Tamar. I agree with every point.

  • Carolyn K. says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with FB’s attempt at expansion if it weren’t for the brazen and careless attitude it’s taking with its users. FB seems to have forgotten that it started out as a closed and private community. Back then, people learned that it was ok to share the intimate details of their lives on this platform because FB promised the info would only be shown to close friends. And that’s the way things were for a while and users were happy.

    Now, in an attempt to expand and make profit, FB is trying to “sell” our private information to outside parties (in an attempt to keep up with Twitter and company). The problem is that Twitter didn’t try to market itself as a private platform. Users knew that everything on Twitter was public and subject to public scrutiny. FB is taking its users for granted by slowly loosening privacy controls and making it increasingly difficult for us to understand and control our own privacy.

    I mean, what is up with making “share my info with 3rd parties” the default? I’m losing faith extremely quickly with FB, but the problem is that there is no better alternative right now. That, and all my friends are still on FB. I do hope that this changes in the near future.

    • Great comments, Carolyn. One of the teachers at my high school alma mater is an administrator of this Facebook group, which has 2.2 million members, and I’ve asked her to contribute her thoughts as she’s gathered from Facebook’s message boards and discussions. Maybe she’ll write a guest post in the future.

  • Totally agree with everything on here, especially about not being able to represent yourself as well as a business. Just wanted to add my support.

  • Jon B says:

    Working with large brands and agencies, I can tell you that Facebook makes themselves available. However, even with access, we don’t necessarily get answers.

    Whether it’s contests on our earned fan base without media or changing a page name or admin, there are just some things we cannot touch. I’ve found that some of the engagement systems like Vitrue or Buddy Media have better engagement consoles, that when setup with a Facebook for Business account, provide easier page management in terms of asset management, conversation management and user comment filtering. That being said, there really is no perfect solution.

    • Jon, I get it. I have worked with large brands and agencies too. I know that small businesses do not feel listened to at all, and most of this letter relates specifically to the little guy.

  • Jeff Cobb says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Tamar. I posted a while back on how there seems to be no way to transfer ownership of a Facebook fan page.
    http://www.jeffthomascobb.com/2009/09/facebook-pages-ownership/
    I was amazed at how many comments that attracted. Hundreds of people had already complained about the issue on the Facebook site and were getting no answers. They still haven’t, and think they keep finding my site because they are searching for answers wherever they can find them. (Alas, I don’t have the answer!). As you make clear, there are still a lot of issues that Facebook needs to own up to if it is really going to be a great tool for business. – Jeff

  • Sarah says:

    This is a fantastic discussion Tamar and clearly shows that Facebook needs to take notice. I had the same issue with being a creator/admin across multiple pages and then moving to a new company. I haven’t taken myself off as yet because it just seemed TOO much effort. Luckily I have a great relationship with my old employer!
    Another little niggle of mine is that they have removed the quicklinks to photos, events etc from the bottom of the page. Now if I am in a photo album I have to navigate back to the home page to get to the photo link overview page (sidebar). Has anyone noticed this too?
    Surely FB has a team dedicated to user testing given the sheer volume of their users.

  • Tamar – great article as always. I’m especially sensitive to the issue of posting as an individual v. as the business while on the fan page. I would add one more related topic by turning that scenario around. I’m also frustrated at times that I cannot “like” another business as my business. We have partnerships, customers and other affiliates with pages and it would be great if our business could friend or like them, but I have not had any luck in discovering a way to do that. I’m assuming that it’s not possible. I’d be interested in knowing if you know a way around this (if it’s just my user error) as opposed to another limitation of the platform….

    Best,

    Sean McGinnis

    • That’s a great observation, Sean. Facebook doesn’t really allow for “alliances” to be created. It’s not possible — I know I’ve come across that issue before and have heard about it before.

  • Hi Tamar,
    I loved this post and the ensuing comments. Perhaps someone at Facebook will actually read and respond to the points you and the people who have commented have made.

    I have experienced having my profile and page disappear and the frustration of trying to get someone from Facebook to respond to my repeated emails. (I got two emails from a Facebook representative but no resolution and eventually gave up a built a new profile and page.)

    I have also witnessed the panic of a client who has invested time and money building a Facebook presence only to find the page suspended without notice or explanation–tough for most businesses to understand and/or accept. We were lucky (this time) and the page was reinstated after a time. I always warn my clients that this type of thing can and does happen but that warning is small consolation when something goes wrong. Of course we all know that we should be using Facebook as a tool (to drive traffic to our respective websites and blogs, where we retain more control) not as replacement for our websites or blogs. However, that doesn’t change the validity of the points you’ve raised in this post.

    I’m also troubled by the privacy issues raised with Facebook Open Graph changes. Not so much for myself, since I have chosen to be all over the web, but for the many users who don’t understand that they need to go back and change their privacy settings (and are confused when they do try to make those changes). I wonder if the new traffic from outside Facebook will clog up the news streams and I am unconvinced that Community Pages offer value (am I missing something here?).

    Thanks for taking the time to spell out the needed changes in a public forum–maybe this will get Facebook’s attention. We can hope!

    • Allen, I’m working on it. We just need to make sure the right people see this article, so please pass it on to those who can relate.

      I understand that you’re unconvinced that Community Pages don’t seem to offer value. That’s why I called it “innovating with uselessness” in the article. :)

  • Wow… yes, yes, yes. As I was reading your letter, I just kept nodding my head. We work with multiple clients in helping set up fan pages, etc. We’ve had to make sure that the fan page is set up under the Business Owner’s account because of the admin issues.

    In researching how to get an admin removed, I found two answers, neither of them quick or easy.

    1. http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=10381469571&topic=9461#topic_top

    “I have had this problem in the past when we created pages for clients. We had the owner of the page do a “report page” and explain the situation. They have been asked to provide credentials and proof of ownership by facebook staff. Eventually they get it taken care of, but are very slow to respond…for obvious reasons i think.”

    2. I have heard that if the original administrator disables their account for two hours or more, that they would be removed as page admin.

    I have not tested the second one, and won’t, because if it is true, I lose admin rights to ALL of my pages.

    You are absolutely right. If Facebook has Fan Pages and is creating an environment for businesses, they NEED to take care of those using them. Most businesses would probably happily pay for the use of a fan page if they were able to recieve some sort of support as well. Perhaps FB could have packages… a free account, no support… paid account, support.

    We can add to the list of FB complaints that sometimes the apps just don’t work… or something on the account is broken. Sometimes you can post YouTube video links on the fan page wall and have the small video screen box appear, and sometimes, it appears as a black link. Same thing goes for reposting events. One day I tried to post a YouTube link on a wall, and it took 5 times before it posted right.

    I can say “Ditto” to every other issue you mentioned… including not being able to respond to a comment as myself on a FB Page I administrate. Hopefully Facebook will pick up on what is being said here and actually do something about it.

    • Hi Michelle, thanks for your comments!

      1. Interesting. Yes, that’s a rash measure for something that should be a little more straightforward.

      2. I’m not sure anyone really wants to do that :) And you’re so right on the other consequences!

      I think businesses *should* pay to have a presence on Facebook. It’d give Facebook a lot of revenue, especially if it’s a $10/month or even year fee for small businesses to have a voice. Think of all the Pages on Facebook! Such an opportunity!

  • I agree, I’ve had most/all of those issues with Facebook. Even worse – they finally put Eventbrite integration in but you can’t link it to an existing account. So not only does every FB event you link to Eventbrite have to be separate from your existing account – multiple FB events aren’t even linked. For the amount of money they must make from ads on the right margin, they really need to step up their game.

    This isn’t college anymore.

    • Lynette, I made a comment about Facebook earlier that I removed, but based on your last comment, I’m going to rewrite it.

      I worked at a very small company that Mark Zuckerberg worked at before Facebook (I never met him there), and I know for a fact that he hired some of his friends — recent college grads — to work with him. Of course they had no experience. But you’d think that five years later, they’d have grown up.

      I guess not, right?

  • Karl Sakas says:

    @Tamar: Part of the problem is the mismatch between Facebook’s users and customers. The Facebook experience is primarily about individuals interacting with each other (and with businesses), but those individuals are not a source of the company’s revenue.

    It’s kind of like newspapers, where the advertisers (customers) bring in most of the revenues, while the readers (users) are a negligible source of profits. But at least newspapers have a duty to put its readers first. Not so with Facebook.

    Solution? Facebook needs an ombudsperson (or an ombudsteam) to represent the needs of its individual users, business users, and advertisers. Right now, no one is speaking for the 400 million users Facebook likes to tout.

    • Karl, maybe yes and maybe no. Without the users, Facebook would be nothing, so I do think Facebook has an obligation to its users. Perhaps it’s too big to care.

      Business can and should be a source of revenue, but if the source of revenue needs to pay $10,000+ and up, I understand why businesses and Facebook don’t get along.

      As mentioned in an earlier comment, I volunteer to be an ombudsperson. ;) Consider this post a cry for help.

  • Adam Gershenbaum says:

    Allen makes a good point. As much of an advocate I am for social, I always say social is disposable. Expect and plan for your account to be deleted at any time. Which is why I always say that after a period of community development, there should be initiatives to gather RSS registrations and email subscriptions at your home site. The name of the game is to bring people closer to the nest. This reminds me of Myspace 3 years ago. It was horrible, I managed about a dozen music profiles with hundreds of thousands of fans and every week it was a battle to get myspace to turn back on profiles. Just because the bands were so busy responding to fans, actually engaging them because me made it mandatory that our bands responded to at least 250 messages a day – myspace would shut the accounts down for engaging too much! I was again fortunate to be spending a fair amount of budget on myspace homepage takeovers so had a direct line to them but even then it would take 7-10 days to get anything resolved.

    What I’ve seen on Facebook lately is a lot of reclassifying of some of the pages I manage to community pages. I did get one pages content removed for copyright infringement, it was an old test page I set up when I first joined FB and I forgot all about it. Just a test image I put there, no loss.

  • Hear, hear! You totally nailed this one, you must be in my head every day as we work through managing multiple client pages on Facebook. Even though we do have clients who spend money (and therefore have phone #s and email addresses for people at FB who will talk to us) there are still many unknowns, uncertainties, and inconsistencies that we never manage to get resolved. And yes, our smaller clients are riding on the backs of our bigger clients with regards to FB service and learnings.

    Even further, there’s often a major disconnect between agencies that create and manage FB pages for clients and agencies that buy FB media for clients – they’re not always one and the same. So while we manage many pages, we don’t buy FB advertising for all of them, some clients do it through their media buying agency. So technically we (as the managing agency) don’t get service for those pages, even though we’re the ones doing the actual engaging – all the service, contacts and connections live with the media buying agency. I mentioned this to one of our FB reps and he didn’t have anything to say; I suspect he knows the system needs an overhaul.

    • Hey Stephanie! It’s nice to have small and large clients because a single Facebook contact can address everything. It’s unfortunate if you’re just a small business with no hired firm or consultant then, because your pleas for help won’t be heard.

      That’s a really good issue, Stephanie. I know how intricate the inter-agency relationships are for big brands, and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If Facebook actually allocated employees to cater to the needs of users manning Official Pages (is THAT why there are Community Pages now?), then we’d be moving closer toward our goal.

  • krissie bee says:

    Nice summary – could put my signature right under this letter. I am missing a bit the focus on data security though which might be less an issue in the US but is a big issue over here in Germany. FB seems to be able to do anything they like with the data we – the users – are feeding them with. quite a scary thought…

  • Adam Gershenbaum says:

    @tamar I guess we can email this to our FB contacts. Call me a wimp but I don’t wanna get on their bad side they may stop responding to me altogether!

  • Andy says:

    I ran into the Facebook Pages problem (stuck as permanent admin) with a local business that I was doing a favour for. I created the page because none of the folks with the shop could figure it out… and now I’m stuck as a permanent administrator despite having 0 business relations with the company.

    As I mentioned on Twitter, it seems that Facebook is suffering from an ADD problem – Ambitions Distracting from Development (cute, eh?). There’s too many things being tackled at once and nothing is ever finished completely.

    • Andy, I love that ADD acronym. It kind of relates to the medical ADD because Facebook’s attention is focused elsewhere and not in some areas where it should be.

  • Norine says:

    I haven’t read through the comments – so, forgive me if this has already been touched upon… but, my biggest grievance is not being able to “like” another business or their activity. I am the admin for my husband’s restaurant; there are local wineries and suppliers with whom I’d like to interact and show my support, but can’t.
    This is why I understand how some businesses have a regular profile page and have “friends” – of course they miss out on all the benefits of a “page” like being public, etc. But, they can interact with their followers and other businesses more easily.

    • Awesome Norine — you and Sean both advocate this, as do I. Personally, I think that a general reader of a website will find such insight very valuable. If I know that Will’s Wines just liked Pete’s Pizza Parlor, I might want to check out Pete’s Pizza Parlor.

  • I had issues after creating an Fan Page for a client as well. The profile used to create the page became inaccessible after a simple email address change (a bug on the back end of Facebook). I couldn’t login with any of the information linked to the profile, could not reset my password, and could not login at all. The fan page was then inaccessible, meaning a complete waste of time and money. I made multiple attempts to contact Facebook in October of 2009 to no avail. Last week I receive a canned response from them telling me to look at their FAQ page (which I already knew offered no assistance). Not sure what they expect companies to do in these circumstances other than break their rules and create a second page. But then again, I’m 100% for sure they don’t care because that’s another company/person they can include in their number of users when they pitch for large portions of the ad budgets of major corporations.

    I agree with Andy’s ADD diagnosis but think it could be changed to MDD (Money Distracting from Development). I feel in the past year Facebook has made it clear that their main concern is optimizing the site to support multiple revenue streams. Customer experience isn’t even on the back burner any more. They don’t care about our concerns or problems with the site. They care about finding ways to gather more data from users and companies and how they can profit from that data. While I know they are a for profit site, they still need to find a happy medium.

    • Ashley, this is *exactly* my issue. I’ve gotten countless emails from people in the same boat as you. “Hi, my Facebook page is gone! Maybe you can help me?” Yeah, I’m so sympathetic to their cause but I can’t.

      Ashley, I like MDD even better. Facebook has been grappling with profitability for a long time, and now that they’re making it, it’s kind of like there’s some greed.

  • Ron Barrows says:

    Wow this really hit home for me, I joined FB in 2004 as a college student as well and LOVED it compared to the already spam-filled Myspace at the time. Privacy? Who needed that? How times have changed…fortunately I never had a problem with the technical aspects of the maintaining pages for businesses I’ve worked with created (not to downplay these concerns in the slightest).

    However, I’m going to go out on a limb and give you a peek into the mind of one of these back-ass-wards, “anti-news feed” radicals. Yes this is somewhat of a rant, but I will fully explain the logic behind my position and provide a simple solution. I do not want to “disable” the news feed. I just want to control the flow of information coming to me from my social network. Hear me out.

    First, let’s agree that it is readily apparent that status updates for Facebook have become the new “away message” (for those of you who remember AIM), and now literally the chat application, and I feel that we’re all worse off/brain dead for it. With AIM, you had the list of screen names (which you could organize/prioritize into groups, unlike FB chat) and to check status update for your friend, you would just mouse over the name instantly see the update/away message ONLY from that particular contact. So I would get my top 10-15 “profiles” I was interested in hearing from, but I still had access to all my other contacts and could check their updates as easily/instantly, BUT ONLY IF I WANTED TO SEE THE UPDATE.

    Another thing about away messages, it did not create a permanent record so there was a lot less pressure about the content, versus a wall post, which stays there for eternity. Throwing up an away message was so much more care-free. I think it’s creepy I can go back and see conversations with gfs’s from 4 years ago on the wall. What am I going to do, go through and delete every post, one by one?

    With FB you have a lot of friends you literally have to check every hour to see what’s going on in your network unless you want to click “older posts”, which is really inefficient. Vice versa, you better post on FB every hour or your stuff probably won’t be seen. With AIM I used to update a couple times a day, or I would leave it the same message up for a week if I was busy, knowing the people I wanted to see it would see my message efficiently and conveniently. So much less hassle, so much more efficient.

    But I don’t see this as something that would be super complicated to fix. Facebook could easily satisfy ton of users by just adding a little more functionality and control for who LOVE the social profile aspects Facebook but just want to control their information intake for updates and chats. You don’t know it if you only hang out in “social media guru” circles, but I’m far from alone in my disdain for the info-overload of facebook. What I propose is quite simple:

    1. Beef up the Facebook chat app enough to rival AIM’s interface where you could organize the list of contacts into groups, and most importantly – check status updates instantly by hovering over the contact, and have a separate website/desktop app just for FB chat, etc.

    2. Have an away message function in FB as an alternative to the wall post. Away message = once you make a new message, it goes down, no permanent record, etc.

    3. Promote the chat app better than a tiny blip on the bottom right corner of the screen – make it a tab, give the option to put it on the home page, etc.

    4. Give users the option to disable your wall/newsfeed completely for those who would prefer the away message functionality of receiving status updates.

    Note in this scenario nothing really changes in the ability to share, it really just provides an alternative method to receive the information from your network. That’s it. Sorry for the rant, I’ve just been there from the beginning with Facebook, and with I was with AIM from high school until it died recently. I just wish Facebook could give a little more control to the users now that they are a chat app, and not just a social profile site, and through a combination of the design of the app and human weakness/tendencies, the whole thing feels like a middle school cafeteria popularity contest its turning me and my friends into a bunch of crackheads.

    OK, go ahead and flame me now

    • Hi Ron, no need to flame you ;)

      So here’s the thing: Facebook offers similar functionality. It’s not ideal based on the order of priority that you’re looking for, but it is kind of aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish.

      Go to your Facebook homepage. Mouseover something that you don’t like. Click hide. The story disappears. Then you see an option to hide that user’s updates altogether.

      Regarding your points:

      1. Facebook does have groups, but not for news feed purposes to my understanding. Maybe there should be some alignment with that based on what you’re saying, as I think that would make sense.

      2. The permanent record thing can sort of be solved but you need to manually delete the updates once you don’t want them anymore.

      3. The chat app was a lot more prominent once in the past, depending on who you ask (I think it’s more prominent now.) But I do think that having a movable pane would be kind of fun. (I use Digsby for Facebook chat though, as I don’t like it all web-based. However, I totally hear you!)

      4. Users don’t have to use their wall at all; in fact, a few of my friends disabled it entirely. That also means that they can’t use status messages at all.

      By the way, I still use AIM. I even still currently use the AIM client. It’s not dead. ;)

  • Josh says:

    Excellent post! Summarized a lot of my similar thoughts. Especially when dealing with being an Admin for a client. Another gripe I have is with the inability to get a hold of someone at FB when they accidentally block one of your FB paid ads, but block your entire account from being able to post ads until the issue is resolved. The only problem, is getting someone to realize that your ad actually complies with all of their rules and regulations. Uggh.

    One question I have is in regards to contests. Your link pertaining to the amount of $ you have to spend on ads in order to run a contest went to the 21 Ways to Drive Traffic To Your Facebook Page post on the Social Media Examiner, not to an article talking about the actual $ amount that FB requires you spend in order to get their permission. Any idea what this $ amount is? I’ve heard it’s up around $10K/mth (which is impossible for small-med sized businesses).

    Also, does using apps like the Wildfire App let you bypass having to spend an obscene amount of $ on ads? Cheers.

    • Josh, that hasn’t happened to me but I can understand that it sucks. And the link I used was intentional. There was no way to directly link to point #10. I don’t know the actual ad spend; I just know that the agencies who got Facebook to listen to them are spending lots more than just $10k/month.

      Wildfire’s pricing is actually quite decent. It’s definitely better than the $10k minimum, that’s for sure!

  • Josh says:

    Thanks for the follow up Tamar!

    It’s been tricking trying to help small – medium sized clients around the legal ramifications of Facebook’s promo guidelines. If you look at the guidelines, the promo has to take place on a custom tab and cannot solicit user generated content, comments on status posts or photo, etc. This makes me wonder about such brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and their Fan of the Week, which they advertise on their wall (still a contest), or Adidas Originals who are currently promoting a survey on the Wall, with the participation being a sweepstakes. Both of these promos take place outside of the custom tab and influences news feed optimization. Makes me wonder whether these mega brands have permission to advertise their promos on their wall or if they’re just doing it anyway…

    It’s a tough call with the contests because they generate great traffic, but we can’t as agencies advise clients to break terms of use guidelines. Facebook has really edged out a large consumer group in the small-medium sized businesses category.

    It’s infinitely easier to hire a good sweepstakes lawyer, promote the sweepstakes on twitter, host the rules for entry on Facebook, but have all the interaction and entry happen on twitter and custom landing pages on the main website. You sidestep FB’s promo guidelines because all you’re doing is hosting text about the rules for entry, but you’re having all of your traffic go through different social platforms.

    How have you been able to address the contest issue for smaller clients?

    /my $0.02

    • Hi Josh, those are good questions — I assume that they have explicit Facebook permission as required. But you’re right, maybe they ARE doing it anyway. After all, if they break the rules, Facebook will turn their page off, they’d make a huge stink, and Facebook will reactivate it again. Clearly, there’s an obvious advantage to being a well known brand. You have money and you have the troops ready and waiting.

      To be honest, my best suggestion for the contest issue is to have the contests elsewhere. I’m currently running a Twitter and YouTube contest, for example.

  • Chris Myles says:

    Tamar,

    I wrote a similar post “Facebook Pages for Businesses: Really?” when I stumbled upon some of those basic issues late last year. It’s mind boggling really.. I guess the good news is now any page can become a fan page, although I haven’t quite figured out all the ins and outs of that complete process yet.

    • Chris, great minds think alike. I’ve been using Twitter to vent my frustrations for a long time about it, and yes, I’ve tried to hint to Facebook employees that this is an issue, but nothing.

      As for the “complete process,” after you, a page, become a fan of another page, that’s it. There’s no interaction that can happen, which was discussed by Sean and Norine.

  • andrea garcia says:

    Hi Tamar,

    Great letter, a lot of the big issues with Facebook and the worst thing, is that they actually have simple solutions.

    I really think that they’re at a decisive point, where they have to start listening to their users or as soon as something similar comes along, people will migrate with hopes of something better. It’s kind of scary actually after so much time in creating profiles, fan pages, etc.

    Anyway.. I hope they read your letter and do something about it!

    • Well, they do have the advantage here. 400 million members means that they’re kind of untouchable. Losing 1 person or even 40,000 people is not even a dent in their userbase.

      Still, that’s not a reason to ignore us. :(

      Thanks for your comments, Andrea!

  • Adam Gershenbaum says:

    I think Chris is on point! A new rant for me, everyone complaining about facebook privacy, yet don’t educate themselves about how to secure their privacy. It’s not Facebook’s job to secure your alter ego. It’s your job. And then the Spokeo issue. Wow, do people not realize it’s all public info, spoke is just compiling it in one spot? This is the pure definition of ignorance.

    • Yup. Another personal rant about people and stupidity: creating accounts you forgot about and then emailing with a complaint demanding removal because you definitely did not create the account, though when you’re told that it’s tied to the same email address you are currently using to complain to me about 3 years later, you say “oh, my email must have been hacked” or “oh, my sister did it.”

      True story.

      I have created a bunch of social media accounts that I subsequently forgot about. (Why’s that? They don’t offer value to me. That’s a whole other topic.)

      My point, though, is this: I understand that Facebook is tasked with fielding thousands of inquiries daily and most are probably really really dumb questions. I get some really really dumb blog comments and I got some pretty silly questions after fielding emails from two of the top 10 blogs. Some questions, though, aren’t stupid and require answering.

      And my other point is that you should never forget what you do online because most websites won’t even bat an eyelash if you want to take down content you put up months or years prior. You really want it to be removed from the sites that Spokeo aggregates from? You might just have to hire a lawyer.

    • Chris Myles says:

      Yeah, I’m having quite the battle about that on Buzz. The worst part is most people don’t realize these are privacy changes that facebook forced users to accept last Nov/Dec.

      Hopefully people will finally wake up, listen/read learn and take responsibly for themselves online (and in the real world). Facebook only owes users a chance to make an informed decision.. opt-in/opt-out doesn’t matter. Don’t like it.. leave!

  • Erica says:

    Thank you so much for airing the page-admins-must-post-as-themselves grievance. I was blown away when first confronted with that problem.

    Maybe a post from someone with your influence, with a few hundred tweets and comments, will reach Facebook.

  • nice post, really very good.

    Editor’s note: I asked for your real name as my blog isn’t the place to try to rank higher for IT consulting. Thus, your name has been edited. Thank you for playing!

  • Konstantin says:

    Great analysis of FB’s shortages. But I think the remarks in the beginning have the biggest weight: FB attracted folks with the promise to be among themselves, still in a group, but a group excluded from the greater world. And that’s now gone :-). I still picture every social network, FB included as a middle ages market place, a square where people flock to chat, do some deals, update on the latest gossip, show their newest clothes. And they can move away in a snap, cause its just a place…

  • Heather Mansfield says:

    What I find most disturbing is that Facebook will not release the magic number of when a “Page” must be authenticated. I know of some Pages that are prompted at 100 fans, er Likes (Stupid)… and some at 50,000 Likes. That’s only supposed to happen when a Page “becomes popular”. This authentification process is a cover, a sneaky trick… it allows Facebook to downgrade long-standing Pages to Community Pages (which get no News Feed action) at any time they want. Release the number Facebook! After being the little darling of the media and bloggers for soooooo long, they have become way too arrogant and definitely a little dastardly.

    I wrote a piece on Monday about why nonprofits should reconsider Facebook… we come from a slight bit different angle that business:

    http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/four-reasons-why-nonprofits-should-reconsider-facebook/

    • Oh yes! Heather, you touched upon something I’ve never seen before but received several complaints about. WTF is Page authentication?! Why do only some people have this problem? I manage a good amount of pages but color me confused. It’s not a consistent process at all.

  • Hi everyone, Tia Fisher and I have just published a new blog post about Facebook’s new Community Pages. We’re so grateful to this blog post for actually helping us with some of the information. Please let us know if you have any information to add to it! http://blog.emoderation.com/2010/04/why-facebook-community-pages-could-be.html

    • Hey Ashley, I love the post — great insights. You know, a suggested Business Center would address the issues that Community Pages are trying to solve. Instead of creating that, they should have delegated some staff to handle business-specific issues, as it’s pretty clear that businesses need it.

  • Kevin DeSoto says:

    Good job Tamar :)
    Yes- many have been subjected to this type of “lack” of customer service & answers.
    The great thing about being “social” on the web- is hearing & seeing peoples dilemmas & responding appropriately- be it individually, collectively or as an “entity” such as with FACEBOOK the “company”.

    I know this article will help & so will all the comments left.

    FACEBOOK – people are listening & responding. Are you? :)

    • I think they are, Kevin. They’re just too afraid to acknowledge this as an issue. They don’t want to speak up because when they do, they think they’ll get bombarded.

      As touched upon earlier, if Facebook wants to reach out to me directly, I’m happy to be the representative. I won’t even give away my contacts. ;) I value relationships built on trust and confidence.

  • Ron Barrows says:

    @Tamar – Thanks for the reply. You raised issues I thought about and actually had included but my last post was pretty long as it was.

    Hiding Individual Users- I actually have resorted to hiding individual users from my FB feed. But I find that to be a really, really poor method of controlling the information flow – it forces a very hard choice. I either have to cut someone out cold turkey, or go “all in” with their updates coming in. With AIM you have the vertical list and I can put someone in a group “Priority A” – Top 10 friends I check their away messages regularly, “Priority B” – next 30 or so who I don’t always check but every so often, “Priority C” everyone else just really there for contact purposes, might check once in a blue moon, and by default I leave the “C” folder “closed” (the arrow points horizontally) so it’s not even displayed.

    All I’m asking is a AIM-style list of FB contacts with a mouse over to see the same info-the status update, and organize versus FB chat’s straight up alphabetical listing, versus a “feed”.

    Deleting Wall Posts – I did consider this deleting all the wall posts – and then individually deleting each one as I make a new one to use it as an “away message” style of functionality…but that would literally take several hours with all the posts going back to 2005 or whenever it started. Is there a easier way to “mass-delete”? I might actually hire a VA to do it for me…but that’s going to cost a pretty penny.

    AIM – For the purposes of my social network of friends AIM is dead, I used to have 500 screen names, organized into categories probably 40% of them them signed in or on away msg at any given time, now none of them are signed in. When I meet people socially, nobody exchanges screen names, they all Facebook. I’m not nostalgic about the tool though, if Facebook tweaked this I would be all over it again.

    • Yeah, I totally see your issue, Ron. That’s a hard one because you’re talking about a really specific (and I mean REALLY specific) want/need. Most of Facebook’s userbase doesn’t see it that way. Thus, I understand Facebook’s implementation. If they add more granularity in their feature set, they’ll just introduce a whole lot of confusion.

      Facebook wasn’t intended to be an IM client. It was intended to be a feed. Remember, it used to say “name is..” You HAD to use IS once upon a time. “Tamar Weinberg is ranting to Facebook.” Yeah, looking at that, it’s not so much of an away message.

      We can go off on a huge tangent here, but while Facebook does have Chat, I don’t think it is a replacement for an IM app. I firmly see IM apps as real desktop applications and Facebook and FB Chat as a webapp. They’re distinctly different and should not even be compared.

      I don’t really know anyone who uses Facebook for their away messages. They might say “I’m going away to Florida now!” but it’s because they want to encourage the ensuing conversation.

      I think you might have to hire a VA if you really want to delete your messages. But do you really want that? I’d be so bummed to remove everything on my account. That’s 5+ years of stuff.

      With 500+ screennames, your whole argument makes sense coming from where you were at. But with Facebook having 400+ million accounts, I would be surprised if even 0.00001% of those individuals can even partially relate.

      I think your issue is valid based on your background, but realistically, it will never be employed. You with your 500 names aren’t the average guy. :)

  • Hi Tamar,

    I just read through the comments and I am blown away by this post and how many people have similar frustrations as Facebook page admins and the like. I’m similar to you–I jumped on FB and was an evangelist as soon as my university got access and have loved pretty much every upgrade until a few months ago when I became the FB admin for a nonprofit organization.

    My biggest grievance is not being able to comment on other pages as a representative of our Page, but as an individual. Just recently our CEO was appearing at a conference and I wanted to leave a message on the conference’s wall saying “stop by and say hi,” but didn’t want to leave it as from me, personally. I agree with the readers above that this is probably because FB was created *for* individuals and not businesses. For me, crossing the line in FB from a personal user to a company/brand user has been interesting and is still a learning process.

    Thanks for this open letter, it’s helping me understand that I’m not alone in my experiences and frustrations. :)

  • Yes, Yes Yes. Wow. You really hit the nail on the head with this blog. It’s as if you crawled in my head and wrote it for me. Facebook and I have a love-hate relationship. Just last week I was posting original videos from YouTube on our site and suddenly the links didn’t work and I lost the function of posting links. Why? The error was something like, “Someone has reported you as posting abusive links.” Really?!? Well, if that really happened, then who was it? Was it a competitor or perhaps someone who mistakenly clicked on the report button? And, where are my rights? I invest hours and my company invests my time in Facebook and then I have this crazy problem. Wow. And don’t even get me started about desparate emails to the silent Facebook Gods about these kinds of issues and the threats of closing down our pages and the fact that we couldn’t transfer friends from a page that the consultant before me mistakenly set up as a profile and the fact that we can’t do something as simple as changing the name or the username of a page. Ugh. Facebook, have mercy. Please?!? All that said, Facebook is a grand idea–they just need to add some customer service. And now for a shameless plug: ff you’ve read this far, kindly “like” our page: http://www.facebook.com/methodisthealthcaresanantonio

  • I couldn’t agree more with you Tamar!!! Facebook need ears, they just have eyes (and pocket). I’ve had the same problems; I as admin wanting to engage with the page…I could’t remove myself as an admin for the business and agencies I’ve worked with, resulting in some cases confrontations. However, what really piss me off is that we are unexistent for them…I’ve tried to contact with them like 10 times to change the business name of a customer’s page and the same, nothing! by the way, if anyone know if I can change it by own, please, let me know : )

    Thought-provoking post though!

    • Yeah, that’s the whole thing — I’m fairly certain it’s not possible. I wonder what happens when the business officially changes its name. And what about acquisitions? This may be far off, but it happens.

      • I’m trying to get a response from facebook, but as you can imagine, no ears…It seems there’s no one out there.

        The thing is we’ve built a community, but the name doesn’t fit anymore, now what?

  • Savannah Brentnall says:

    I’m having the same problem with one of the pages I admin. It’s for a well-known performer whose new business page launched on Monday. We put a lot of time, money and effort into creating a page that reflected his brand, and also to promoting the fact that he’s now got a presence on fb. We’ve added 1400 fans since Monday, while the community page about him has added 31k. So we’re promoting and they’re benefiting.

    Of course, we have no control over the community page. It uses an unauthorized photo and no branding. And since it pulls all the content from our official page, there’s no incentive for people to “like” our page as well.

    Basically, they just removed all incentive for brands to put money into creating a great-looking page.

    • Very interesting, Savannah. If you’re officially representing that performer, there *should* be recourse. I wonder if Facebook plans to disclose what that is.

      • Savannah Brentnall says:

        There should be, but so far there isn’t. All I’ve received are emails saying that they’re looking into it and there may be a solution in the future. This is affecting many artists, and it looks like the record company will have to get involved.

        It’s worse than I originally thought when I posted, btw. When facebook did the conversion of people’s music taste on their profiles into page links, they linked to THEIR community page, not to our official page. Of course, most people don’t know this and haven’t checked all the new links on their profiles.

        As of today, our page has 1500 fans and the community page is up to 64k.

        • Wow. That’s awful. I’m going to see if I can pass this specific issue onward, since Facebook needs to get its act together.

          • Savannah Brentnall says:

            That would be great, especially since the community page is now up to 82k. We’re at 1700. I’ve even resorted to privately messaging everyone who has something interesting on the community page and asking them to please post it on the official page so the performer can see it.

        • Josh says:

          Savahhah, thanks for sharing this. It seems to be a very frustrating ordeal that you are going through with your client.

          It’s been interesting following the windfall from the sweeping changes to the UI that Facebook recently made. A lot of the changes seem to have negatively affected brands, which is puzzling, considering brands are where Facebook will make their money…

    • Chris Myles says:

      Just read an interesting article from Jeremiah Owyang about how Facebook’s ‘Community Pages’ Impact Brands. He gives some good tips and suggests “I’m told that Facebook will migrate community pages to your official Facebook page..”.

      The real-time related post updates will be a great keeping your finger on the pulse of topics and brands. For mainstream users, the related posts by friends should be very powerful, it will be interesting to see how/when it all comes together!

  • Sue Anne Reed says:

    At a recent conference I was at, Brian Solis openly admitted that he violates Facebook policies on a daily basis while promoting brands. I think because he’s Brian Solis he gets away with it.

    One of the biggest issues I’ve run into recently is that my personal email and Facebook account were hacked. While this was a giant inconvenience in my personal life, because Facebook forces me to tie my non-profit work to my personal profile it also affected my professional life. The silence from Facebook was annoying and lasted a little over a week before I was able to reset my Facebook account.

    The dilemma is that even with all the problems with Facebook (privacy, constant changes, lack of customer service, etc.), the platform is too popular to ignore.

    • “I think because he’s Brian Solis he gets away with it.”

      I’m not sure I’d agree. People are always doing this because Facebook isn’t staffed enough to help businesses or to police all its violations. For example, I get friended daily by people who do not use their real names even though that’s a policy.

      And a week? You’d also think they’d hire staff to address issues like this in 1-2 business days. Sorry to hear about your troubles, Sue Anne.

      • Sue Anne Reed says:

        The worst part about the fact that it took a week was because of the silence. If someone (anyone) had been in touch and said that they were reviewing the issue and that they would get back to me, that would have been ideal. Silence is the ultimate rudeness.

        I’m interested to see how / if these “privacy issues” affect Facebook’s numbers at all. (Unique visits during the month, time spent on the site, # of new folks, etc.) If it doesn’t, I’m worried that Facebook will see it as a reason to continue the status quo.

  • Michelle Paul says:

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Thanks for writing this post — now I can just link everyone here instead of having to write it myself!

    I’ve been having the following argument this week:
    Me: “I’ve defended Facebook a million times in the past, but the latest round of ‘improvements’ finally has me in the ‘stop changing things just for the sake of changing them!’ camp.
    Someone else: “Oh, but it’s a brilliant move from a marketing/branding/money-making perspective! Look at all the data they can collect and advertising opportunities, blah blah blah. Who cares if users whine about privacy, they’ll get over it.”
    Me: “Never mind the privacy issues and the weirdness of Community Pages — there are a TON of tiny little improvements they could make to Pages that would ACTUALLY MAKE THEM A BETTER, MORE FUNCTIONAL PLATFORM for businesses!….and thus make Facebook more money. What are they thinking?!?!”

    And, you know, then my head explodes and the conversation ends.

    I just hope that eventually they’ll have to get their act together. Something’s gotta give.

    • I can’t see it being a brilliant move from a marketing/branding/money-making perspective. Ostracizing businesses and even celebrities is not a smart business practice at all.

      • Savannah Brentnall says:

        I agree completely. It’s been over a week now with no response to facebook. Universal is involved, and we’re even considering getting lawyers involved and filing trademark infringement regarding the community page. It’s all so unnecessary!

        • Just so you know, Savannah, I passed your specific issue directly to a friend who knows someone at Facebook. I have no idea if Facebook is listening (the one person I emailed directly had no interest in replying, which is not a surprise but explains their lack of sensitivity/professionalism toward businesses) but maybe this specific outreach attempt which was made earlier today will yield some favorable results.

          If you feel comfortable, please use my contact form and send me the information about the performer who you are representing. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide that to Facebook when they come along and respond — if they respond.

      • Michelle Paul says:

        Well, I agree! I think that particular argument comes from a very narrow perspective: “Now Facebook ITSELF has all this data and can somehow take over the world!” (which is very much a “step 2: ???, step 3: profit!” situation).

  • Ron Barrows says:

    @Tamar – I know most of what I’m saying is wishful thinking, but crazier things have happened. LOL you think 500 AIM connections is a lot? You should meet some of the girls I dated in college…but hold the phone for a second? How can Facebook not be compared to Instant Messaging? Facebook added the chat feature…everyone I know who is not using AIM now says “I use Facebook chat/wall posts now instead” (if you can’t tell I’m kinda interested in this so I’ve spoken to a LOT of people). I guess we just have different types of friends (that’s fine, but recognize the diversity of user habits in Facebook) because “going to Florida!” is EXACTLY the type of thing that I would have expected to see in an AIM away message, that is now done as a wall post. People did the away messages to “encourage dialogue” too, and often would post their IM conversations in away messages- there was just a much greater element of control – you could just copy and paste it in the away message. Anyway we can agree to disagree if necessary, but I just I think it’s pretty crystal clear that FB is in the chat app biz, and it is fair to compare them, ‘nuff on that.

    How about just a simple a “waiting for moderation” feature on the wall anyway, where you have to confirm it first if someone posts on your wall? I’ve had to delete a few wall posts in my day, not often but when it does it sucks. I don’t mind people posting on it overall, I just want the moderation approach versus rushing to delete something before anyone else sees it, or rather the fear that it could happen. You’ve got moderation on your own blog here, surely you can empathize with a desire for control somewhat? Not being critical of you, just food for thought on the overall inflexibility of the Facebook wall/news feed set-up, which is the cornerstone of my “manifesto” if you will…

    Perhaps the majority of Facebook’s userbase may not be requesting the types of specific functionality like I have, but to quote Henry Ford “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. To be clear, yes, absolutely, some people prefer the feed, writing on each others walls, etc, and that’s fine. But I submit that when you really listen to non-tech, everyday people types that have gripes about Facebook, “creepy”/”stalkerfest” tend to be most commonly used words, at least that I hear. But if you look behind the words and really listen to them, it’s the information overload/inflexible controls over inflow and outflow of personal info. I don’t think their wishes are mutually exclusive with the “be on Facebook 24-7”/”social media geek” types. If they just built that chat app out a liiiittle more to where you could categorize the friend list, and display the most recent status update there by hovering over the name it would go a long way toward making the application more flexible to individual user preferences in how they get information from their social network, yet still be *fairly* seamless into the app’s current form. And if they had an away message option – I’d update that WAY more than wall posts – my friends would too – FB gets all that data additional data for ad targeting, etc – win win for everyone.

    I digress, I know none of this will ever going to happen with Zuckerberg’s comments on privacy. Everything’s oriented toward making you log in 30x a day. No wonder unemployment is 10% who wants to hire the average American to check Facebook all day.

    • “LOL you think 500 AIM connections is a lot?”

      Nope – I think 500 distinct *screen names*, though, is a lot. I know not a single girl who has that many. I’m the worst female I know and I had about 20 screen names. :)

      I understand the need for control, but the platforms are different. One is Facebook and the other is a blog. The need for moderation comes out of a desire to avoid spam. I guess you can see these messages as spam, but they shouldn’t be. That’s why you should choose your friends wisely.

      As for the stalkerfest, the real answer is – well, don’t volunteer too much stuff ;)

      I do see your point, though. I just don’t think it’s something they’d ever do realistically.

  • Dan Elbas says:

    Tamar – I think I’m in love. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY 100% correct about Facebook and their “attempt” at serving business. I can not tell you how many countless hours I have spent trying to build a viable business page only to have run into some “quirk” unique to Facebook that there is no possible way to get an answer to because — hey! There’s no one freaking “home” at Facebook!
    These people want to serve the business segment yet have absolutely ZERO support to address the MANY issues related to building a business page at Facebook. In a word, Facebook for your average small business SUCKS. It sucks out time and resources and since there is absolutely no way that I can see to “search” for business “type” (i.e. – “Georgia health Insurance”) only a business name — who the heck is going to find me?! The only people who are going to find me are the people who already know I exist, that’s who!!! Yeah I’m sure it’s different if you’re “Coke” or “Pepsi” but if you’re “Fred’s Insurance” you are screwed.
    And please don’t even get me started on the horror of trying to use the page buidling tools at Facebook. What worked 5 minutes ago may not work 5 minutes from now…Why?! Who knows?!? Can I get an answer to the problem I’ve encountered? uhhh…NO!
    Tamar I have worked with SaaS apps for over a decade and Facebook is BY FAR the single biggest piece of junk I have EVER seen. Just utter junk. Who to tell that to at Facebook? Who knows? The lights are on but no one is home!
    Oh and here’s a rich tale of woe: One night in utter frustration trying to get to the treasured “25 Fan” level so I could claim a biz name address, I took the bait and tried to sign up for a Facebook ad campaign. Several passes later and another 30-60 minutes of my life wasted I got absolutely no where with the Facebook ad interface.
    Bottom line: I still have the Facebook biz page – haven’t been to it in over a month and frankly it can rot until the end of time. SEO and Google is still the only worthwhile pursuit of a small business owner’s time. I know I’ll get hell for that comment from the Twitter crowd but that is also a monumental waste of my time. IF people are actually reading the tweets anybody is putting out there I have yet to meet one of them in my business. Twitter + Facebook = TOTAL WASTE OF TIME. Facebook mania is like the tulip crash of 1637 – a giant fraud perpetuated on biz owners and consumers who will one day wake up, smell the Starbucks, and flee…

    • Facebook was great in its simplest form in 2005. Now, I guess you’re right, it’s a mess while trying to appeal to everyone except the people who have made Facebook a “marketplace” which really does help the bottom line.

      I’m not going to be a complete Facebook detractor; I have a post coming that will talk about how to market your business — but the lack of accountability still baffles me.

  • Several weeks ago I created a page for my employer, taking the time to upload photos and videos, and “pre loading” it with a bunch of interesting links, status updates, event notes, etc. It was all set and ready to be published.

    Then, for better or worse, I found out about the ADMIN FOR LIFE policy.

    With a lot of angst, I finally decided to delete the page and start over. Thanks to some advice I found by googling about this problem, I was able to create a business Facebook account that was not directly linked to me. However, to do this, I ended up creating a special g-mail account for my employer, since I also didn’t want to link anything to my work e-mail address (after all, I won’t work here FOREVER). I went through that to create our YouTube account as well.

    So, all’s well that ends well, right?

    Well, I just discovered that our up-and-operational Twitter account appears to be perma-linked to me as well.

    Sigh.

    -J

  • krissie bee says:

    one more thing they could introduce on the fanpages – you never get alerts when somebody makes an activity on the page – you always have to actively check. I have a small page only with currently 120 fans (or “likers” ;-) ) – I think you should be able to select an option where you get an alert in case anything happens on the page – that would allow you to react quicker…

    • Chris Myles says:

      The new API will make something like a notification service much easier to develop ( your page). Unless you are a developer that will only look like somewhat familiar garbage.

      • krissie bee says:

        i am everything but a developer – i just want to tick a box ;-)

        • Savannah Brentnall says:

          How about using a tool like Spredfast? It’s free for the basic service and you can immediately see your activity across all social media, such as facebook, twitter and google blog search.

          • Josh says:

            I know that HootSuite can pull your FB Pages feed, and it’ll refresh with comments on your Page. However, it still isn’t as simple as incorporating an email alert for a Page similar to the alerts you get when posts to your personal wall.

        • Chris Myles says:

          I also think seesmic desktop does something similar for facebook fan pages and twitter.

          You don’t have time to be a developer.. you are too busy making beautiful blankets. Nice!!

          • krissie bee says:

            thanks all – will check them out – would still prefer though if facebook just sent me an email – they send emails for everything else! having to install another piece of software does not sound too tempting to me ;-)

  • Kerry Rego says:

    An absolutely necessary post, well written, and voices all of my concerns. The sigh worthy part is I don’t think they care.

    • Sue Anne Reed says:

      Kerry, I agree. The very sigh worthy part is that right now Facebook doesn’t seem to care. And, as long as they have continued growth and don’t see any sort of mass deletion of accounts, etc. they aren’t going to have any incentive to change.

    • Clearly they don’t; these concerns are always being overshadowed by other issues on the table. The privacy issue will die down and this issue will still remain.

  • Mike says:

    For me removing a long list of Fans is tough task many times, we have to remove sometime due to some reasons which we added long time back… Twitter seems good in this feature…..
    I do admit that not anyone can be perfect but some of these seems very basic things which for FB is not tough to resolve before they create new features..

  • Peter says:

    G’day Tamar, this is a great rant and even as a reasonable newbie to all things Web, I still cannot get my head around facebook.
    In trying to please all people all of the time it appears not to be pleasing anyone any of the time. I have tried on quite a few occasions to contact fb admin but its like talking to a brick wall. So I’m just letting it roll along and I’m looking at other social media sites that are more user friendly.
    Thank you for the opportunity to take part in your discussion :-)

    • Facebook cares about money, not about people. It’s only when the people en masse threaten to stop paying with their data and money that they take action.

  • rschmidt says:

    Thanks Tamar for this post, I know many others feel the same way about Facebook and its policies. There seems to be an attitude that Facebook has little or no responsibility to help its users find resolutions to their problems.

    Edited: Thanks for the comments. As per my blog policy and the request on the comment form itself, I’ve asked you to use your real name.

  • Tola says:

    Oh Facebook… you were once the love of everyone’s life… but slowly but surely you’re getting your fair share of divorce letters, really you need to go for more counselling!!
    Once again you’ve said it all Tamar and most of the comments as well. I remember the first time I had a real issue with my account and literally had to go through hoops and loops to find a contact-us email address, that was about oh, 6-7 months ago. And to this day, no one has even bothered to answer me. You would think that with all this abuse we’ve learnt our lesson and move on, but we just keep coming back for more!!
    I think facebook needs to engage their users more than anything. Or else they will truly end up losing everything…

  • Peter says:

    @tola, very funny, but who will get custody. Or rather who would want custody!
    I’ve just had another problem with FB and had to change passwords yet again.!

  • h sweeney says:

    Hi! Tamar
    Facebook has too many problems to get started on but they are interested in doing an IPO…….
    These kind of Mgt. “flying by the seat of the pants” decisions will hurt that effort and could ultimately mean a future of mediocrity. (I for one don’t believe that the new “expose” yourself for Facebook settings were ever put to a very wide group to evaluate or else the Mgt. problems permeate the entire company top to bottom)
    No big investor wants unstable Mgt. esp. not the big pension funds where so many shares can be peddled.

  • I. Kant says:

    Looks like there’s enough comments here to print a book, and it’s the book I’ve been looking for since March. I had no idea that everyone, not just me, didn’t immediately understand all these page types. We all do now. We all have found out the hard way about the admin for life policy.
    The only way around these problems is really to cheat and create illicit Facebook personal accounts that you are prepared to delete. Unless a fan page itself is deleted if the creator’s account is, even if it has multiple admins?
    Community pages may have been a good idea for “causes and ideas” in which case it should have been put together that way. It appears to just be a sleazy way for FB to take advantage of, nay, *create* ambiguities.
    Only a few weeks ago (just before the original letter of this post) I had a brand page deleted, against advice from associates. The client wanted this and frankly, because of the voice used on these pages, i.e., posing as the brand they really do need to be removed. “Does your skin get lighter?” “Brand Name says: yes, some lightening may occur with this product…” I’ve already noted, fans are usually convinced they are talking to the company owning the brand or product. This is not acceptable and we’re desperately trying to come up with a solution. If only FB would listen.

  • Chris Myles says:

    Just read an interesting article from Jeremiah Owyang about how Facebook’s ‘Community Pages’ Impact Brands. He gives some good tips and suggests “I’m told that Facebook will migrate community pages to your official Facebook page..”.

    The real-time related post updates will be a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of topics and brands. For mainstream users, the related posts by friends should be very powerful, it will be interesting to see how/when it all comes together!

    • Chris – Jeremiah’s post was great and I shared it amongst many people. It was the best summary I had seen on the topic. And the trust issue nails it on the head. Does Facebook even care though?

  • JoAnne Rome says:

    I thought it was me. I’ve spent weeks feeling utterly obtuse, struggling to figure out how to set up a page for the org that employs me without linking it to my personal fb profile. It just didn’t make sense to me that by setting up their page, I would be assigned the role of admin in perpetuity. It still doesn’t, but now I understand that the idiocy isn’t mine.

    Thanks, Tamar, for speaking up about this.

  • Tia Fisher says:

    My advice o the Page ownership issue would be to set up a new email alias (which could subsequently be owned by anyone in my company and could also deliver to a group) and a fictious ‘profile’ in order to set up a company Facebook page. The ‘profile’ is blank and cannot be seen by any visitors to the page. Please note though a) It’s against the rules and b) It could get confusing!

    • Yeah – that’s a solution but it’s also against Facebook’s Terms of Service. It’s kind of hard to beat around the bush when you could get terminated for doing so. Facebook doesn’t leave us much choice thoguh!

  • I. Kant says:

    You can set up a page for a business on a special one-shot business account. The account is the creator and admin of a page. It has no profile at all (a good thing) and requires an email and a “real name”. Using Gmail or a company mail should work. This account can not “like” things, etc. It is strictly for administering one fan page.

    • Tia Fisher says:

      Hi Kant

      That’s really interesting. Can you give more details of that and a link if possible?

      Tia

      • Tia, just go to this URL when you’re not logged into Facebook. You will see the regular page setup, but when you confirm the creation of your page, you get a screen like this. That’s how you do it.

        • Tia Fisher says:

          Thanks both – gosh I really wish i’d known that a few weeks ago! I crrently have a useless ‘fake’ profile created just to be an admin of our Fanpage using a company email address so admin can be passed on if necessary…. it’s making life harder for me. For example, automatic Twitter updates go to the profile and not to the Fanpage. Do you know whether a Fan Page created via your method above could be automatically updated from Twitter?

    • This is a good point – this profile option is not really often pursued, however, and thus, I overlooked it. Excellent point.

  • David says:

    Thanks for sharing of your knowledge about Facebook what it is today, and for helping to make the world more open and connected.

  • sam says:

    Great analysis of FACEBOOK’s shortages. But I think the remarks in the beginning have the biggest weight: FB attracted folks with the promise to be among themselves, still in a group, but a group excluded from the greater world. And that’s now gone . I still picture every social network, FB included as a middle ages market place, a square where people flock to chat, do some deals, update on the latest gossip, show their newest clothes.
    it will be interesting to see how/when it all comes together!. Thanks.

  • I empathize with you tamar.. but i guess you would understand that for a large organization like Facebook how difficult it would be to cut out all the spam that it gets each and everyday… no doubt that many innocent people like you and many others do suffer.. but then we shouldn’t forget the opportunistic provided to us by this huge platform… i could only wish if facebook can hear your voice and help you further with your issues,,

    Editor’s note: Thanks for your comments. However, as stated in my blog policy, I have asked you to use your real name. I do not think your name is “xbox kinect” and have edited your comment and URL as explained in the blog policy. Oh, and I stole your link.

  • Amrit says:

    I would like to draw the attention of facebook publisher. Try to annoy those post which are prone and sexually exploited like as in youtube. Dont accept those pictures and videos which is sexually exploited and prone.
    This creates an harassment to the facebook users when they see someone publishes some like that in their page.

  • Felicia says:

    I have recently been put in charge of my company’s social media efforts, which means starting up the facebook page. I have run into all of the above problems plus more. My favorite, which I am adding to your list, is a silly (albeit understandable) rule which is entitled “Capital Standard” in the terms for naming your page. I cannot mis-use a capital letter by putting it anywhere in a word other than the beginning. Makes sense when so many people type LiKe ThIs.

    But, can you imagine my shock and horror when I couldn’t use our company name “SavOn,” it’s legitimate and only spelling, because of it? I’ve filled out several feedback forms, the only way I could find to file a complaint only to be met with the same “we’re reading your mail, but not going to respond” messages.

    We’re still hashing it out with the legal dept on how to best write our name on Facebook now. +several weeks to the project launch. Thanks, FB.

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