It's the season of change, and social media hasn't missed a beat. First Twitter announced a rapid series of updates, and now it's Facebook's turn.You've probably heard about how Facebook's "Like Button" can now be found across the Web, letting you "Like" specific products and see your Facebook friends' favorites on the same sites. (See it in action over on Levis.com.)
But one issue that hasn't gotten as much attention is the creation of Facebook Community Pages and how they are being integrated — sometimes quite awkwardly — with your Facebook profile.Linking Up Your Profile
A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about Facebook changing "Become a Fan" to a "Like" button for pages. What was not clear at the time were the full implications of this move.
As part of the expanded use of "Like," Facebook has now linked the "interests" listed in your user profile to two kinds of pages: existing fan pages and new "Community Pages" for topics that aren't tied to a specific brand, business or artist.
For example, if you listed Weezer as a favorite music in your Facebook profile, the band's name will now link to the official Weezer fan page. But if you're into something more vague, like "Running," the word will link to a community page that looks more like a Wikipedia entry (and probably even includes info from Wikipedia).The good news? You choose whether to opt in. If you haven't visited your profile page in a while, try going to it and see if Facebook offers you the option of linking your interests to existing pages.
This will link all that content listed in your personal info — music, movies, interests, books, employment and school — to a fan page or community page for everyone who lists that particular interest or activity.
(But be warned: I chose not to create pages for my interests, which have been on my profile for years. So Facebook simply deleted them. Bummer. On a related note, when a colleague made the switch, Facebook somehow added an entirely new interest to his list: Graffiti. We have no idea what happened there.)
You're also given the option to "hide" any interests you don't want displayed publicly, though I'm not sure why you'd already have such unsavory topics listed on your profile.
Your new interests, activities and likes will default to public, no matter what your previous settings were, so you will need to edit these accordingly. An additional category of "Friends, Tags, and Connections" has been added to your privacy settings, and is the new home for these settings. For a general step-by-step guide through the privacy process, read our post about how to edit privacy settings.
Time will tell how Facebook users react to Community Pages. They may be adopted as replacements for Facebook Groups, which suffer from the fact that any posted updates are not featured in members' Facebook news feeds. (In other words, you have to keep visiting a group to keep up with it, unlike how you can subscribe to updates from Pages.)
Popular brand pages stand to benefit well from the profile shift, which helps raise awareness of official pages among casual fans. However, I've noticed that smaller brand pages don't register easily in the transition, and users may be linked instead to a Community Page. This will certainly be an obstacle in growing an audience.
On the positive side for brands, especially those not currently using Facebook, Community Pages will make it easier to keep track of what customers are saying.
Still have questions? Facebook might have answers on its Help Q&A.