{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

By now most people will have adopted Facebook’s new profile format. Unfortunately one of these recent changes showcases a pretty big flaw in Facebook’s connectivity, and unhappily for the social networking giant, it’s one that impacts businesses directly.

By now most users will be aware of which changes they will need to make (if any) to optimise the new profile, but there are now a few sections which are unfortunately beyond your control, chiefly the way your ‘Employer Information’ is displayed.

If you have updated to a new profile layout, then every profile you view will be displayed in this way. 

Here’s my profile:

Matt-Owen_profile

Yes, I’m vain enough to have set up one of those huge pictures on my profile. Ignore my swarthy good looks and the ridiculous content for a moment though and instead direct your eyes towards the Information bar.

Seems fine, that’s the right University, I live in London, and I’m older than I like to admit.

There’s also a prominent link to my employer: Econsultancy

But a click on the link to my employer reveals… well, the wrong page entirely:

incorrect-facebook-company-pageThe Econsultancy that Facebook links to is a randomly generated filler page, based only on the information I have entered (In other words,  If I decide to change my employer to ‘Darth Vader’ then a randomly generated ‘Darth Vader’ page will appear here).

On the individual level this isn’t a huge problem, but it’s worth considering the impact this can have on larger businesses and brands in general.

If you are a multinational with 100,000 employees listing you on Facebook, then there will be 100,000 alternatives to your official Company page, pages which the creators could also possibly claim as their own, which leaves scope for brand hijacking.

In addition, people have the ability to ‘Like’ this randomly generated page.

I occasionally get friend requests from people who’ve tracked me down via Google or through Twitter and LinkedIn, and although my Facebook is largely personal information rather than anything work related I’m happy to add them in the interest of general networking.

Unfortunately a few have ‘Liked’ this random page by mistake.

These are likely to be people who have viewed my profile because they are interested in Econsultancy.

Now they are friends with an empty page that doesn’t provide them with any information, rather than our actual page which provides regular updates (and yes, I am going to ask you to follow us on Facebook). Worse, it’s also impossible for me to see who the new page’s ‘Fans’ are and inform them of the mistake.

Econsultancy-facebook-page


Facebook has obviously instituted this method of listing companies to avoid confusion. If you work for a ‘Middle School’ or ‘National Bank’ then there is obviously room for serious mistakes to occur were Facebook simply to guess which ‘Middle School’ you actually worked for: One in Delaware, or one in Krakow?

A hijacked brand or a massive boost to a competitor’s page is a worst case scenario of course, but as marketers work hard to gain new fans and make connections, it’s still an annoyance that potential customers are being redirected to the incorrect destination.

Currently this can be fixed: Simply delete your employer and re-add them to select the correct company here (although that said, Facebook still doesn’t seem to want to locate the real Econsultancy page for me).

But you can’t expect every employee to have the time or inclination to do this even if you have pointed it out and requested that your staff update.

Facebook shouldn't expect you to, especially as the problem isn't made clear, but instead requiring users to implement some unreliable editing that most people won’t uncover until they move to a new company. 

Facebook’s business is largely built on its ability to provide businesses with deep, granular information about users and the functionality to target adds with pinpoint accuracy.

Much of this it does very well, but this simple oversight represents a major flaw in Facebook’s accuracy and the credibility of the social graph that could seriously affect businesses.

Matt Owen

Published 11 January, 2011 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (17)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Heart Internet Reseller Hosting

I thought there was only one alternative company/business page created, not thousands? It's a bit counter-rproductive of FB to create so many useless pages, I hope they phase them out.

- Jenni

over 5 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi Jenni, as far as I can tell it's many different pages - if I'm mistaken here though then please do let me know. Either way, it's a pain for marketers if it means small pools of potential leads and existing customers lurking on dead-end pages around Facebook when you could be actively engaging with them. Thanks for your link Henry. If the original company are indeed responsible for content published in their name (as laid out by the ASA) then it adds an entirely new level of logistical headaches for community managers on Facebook.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ars

I found this issue too while connecting my profile to my brand page. BUT you can't control that I'd call "doorway" pages because you must enter the procedure of legal approvement that "that" page belongs to you. When I tried to complete that procedure (hence I didn't realise that I can change few letters in my Job Position to point link on the right page) I approved my mobile other details and got nothing as a reply but only a proof link or something else generic.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Matthias

Hi Matt, thanks for this great post, it answers a lot of my questions. We have an existing fan page and some more of these annoying company pages. I guess this will help to fix this. Tx, Matthias

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gary Barclay, Director at Barclay Works Ltd.

There is a workaround method to re-enable the link to your employers FB fanpage. It involves a Firefox plugin called webdeveloper and jumping into form view mode which reveals alot of the raw code behind FB pages. You then provide your company FB code(given to every FB entity on creation). It's a reasonably straight forward process. Not ideal I know and has to be done on each profile. For large companies, this will be undoable but for SMBs not too much pain and probably worth the effort.

over 5 years ago

Jo Darby

Jo Darby, Digital Content Manager at Celesio

Thanks for the post. Backs up some of the assertions I have made about claiming our random Facebook pages and I do work for a national bank!

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ben Paton

We are lucky at B&Q we got around this issue by getting facebook to merge our brand and community page together.

over 5 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Thanks Ben + Gary, so it appears there aresolutions available, but it does seem as though FB need to make this clearer to everyone setting up a fan page going forward.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Stella Woodend

Isn't the answer not to put your employer on your facebook info? If you use your own profile for personal use, there shouldn't be any need to list your employer?

over 5 years ago

Jo Darby

Jo Darby, Digital Content Manager at Celesio

Stella, that solves the problem if you can stop all employees sharing this information, but a large proportion might not be concerned where that page gets redirected to. Some people want to share their employment information and others need to if they have clients engaging with them on Facebook. I think the solution needs to lie with Facebook consolidating the different iterations of company pages and for companies to claim their own Facebook pages, which I believe are generated based on information about them on the web. For example, I believe ours is based on Wikipedia information currently and this isn't as truthful and unbiased as we might hope for.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Kyle

On a slightly related note... is anyone having difficulty responding to individuals comments and questions on a company page? We opt to respond to wall posts with comments from individual profiles (as apposed to the company admin profile) but are finding our comments do not always appear under the wall post when logged out, therefore leaving our other fans under the impression we haven't responded. I assume it's a privacy thing, but it's a recent development and seems quite erratic. Ideas welcome!

over 5 years ago

Corrie Davidson

Corrie Davidson, Social Media Manager at Sisarina, Inc

Thank you for pointing out this annoying flaw!! This drives me crazy - especially when you put forth the effort to create a company page! I can't add my right company page either - but i can add many other different ones... not quite sure how Facebook is linking these... but yes. very annoying and potentially harmful to brands. Its actually less helpful than not linking at all at this point.

over 5 years ago

Leigh Stouffer

Leigh Stouffer, Global Sales Director at Candytech / Socialbakers

Hi All, Ben is right, you can ask Facebook to merge pages for you.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Kathy Long

Thanks Matt. You said, "Simply delete your employer and re-add them to select the correct company here"   I can't find any way to delete my employer. In fact, I see no way to even edit my employer name. At some point I entered "Self (for self-employed) and then my business name (Kat & Mouse). It looks funny to me and I want to change it. Problem is, Facebook doesn't give me access to that to change. If you can be specific on how to delete it, that would help me. Am I the only one who can't?

Maybe if I can edit that field, I can then do what @Gary Barclay suggests. Until then, his suggestion doesn't work either for me.

IMHO, Facebook has a bad habit of rolling out changes without fully testing them. Perhaps they need to hire staff who understand the needs of businesses better. I don't think they have it just right for that sector yet.

Thanks, guys.

over 5 years ago

Leigh Stouffer

Leigh Stouffer, Global Sales Director at Candytech / Socialbakers

Hi Kyle, regarding corporate answers to posts, I have seen where firms advise in the INFO section who the people are on the team that reply to posts with their initials in parentheses (in my case LS) Then, when posts are made, the team member that is replying puts their initials at the end of the post. Might be an option? Best wishes.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Bangalow Accommodation

Interesting food for thought and you raise some good points - I don't like the new profile format for other reasons - it shows all the standard boring stuff at the top and up front (education, work etc) but doesn't give the BIO which to me is the most important part of anyone's FB page!

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

rtyecript

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

about 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.