Yesterday Facebook began rolling out some new changes to the Facebook “Fan” pages and profiles. What seems a fairly innocent text change has created a whirl of frantic emails asking to understand this and what it means to the owners of Facebook pages. According to Facebook people tend to click “Like” almost two times more than they click “Become a Fan” everyday.” Um, well maybe that’s because they don’t want to join the page as an official fan (or let their friends know they’re addicted to Nutella) but still want to support quality information with a “like” now and then.

Facebook says: ‘Liking a Page means you are connecting to that Page. When you connect to a Page, it will appear in your profile and you will appear on the Page as a person who likes that Page,’

‘On the other hand, when you click “Like” on a piece of content that a friend posts, you are simply letting your friend know that you like it without leaving a comment.’

The NY Times sees it this way: “The Like button will allow Facebook to keep a record of what a user linked to, providing the company with ever more data about people’s preferences. Facebook, in turn, plans to share that data with Web publishers, so that a magazine Web site, for instance, may be able to show users all the articles that their friends like. A site like Yelp may show reviews from a user’s friends, rather than those from strangers.” They also infer that this is part of a grander scale push to incorporate Facebook deeper into web sites and other applications.

Getting a lot less press are the Facebook Community Pages

Got a cause or interest you want to share with the world? Instead of creating a “Fan” page you can create a community page for people to connect with. Here’s the kicker though

“If it becomes very popular (attracting thousands of fans), it will be adopted and maintained by the Facebook community.” (from the Facebook community page). So in effect if your community takes off and becomes wildly popular it will be owned by the community itself. This is good on the one hand because we want the community to feel so good about the page that they DO take it over. On the other hand that means you’re not the boss of it anymore. That can be a tough blow to someone who has shed tears to build the community in the first place… There’s also some questions if that really means that you build the community and then Facebook uses your community as a revenue stream with advertising and focused “special offers”. But maybe I’m being too cynical.

From Facebook’s blog “certain parts of your profile, including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests, will contain “connections.” Instead of just boring text, these connections are actually Pages, so your profile will become immediately more connected to the places, things and experiences that matter to you.”

As the communities feature is phased in you’ll see some changes on your profile page when you log in. You’ll see a box that recommends pages based on your interests and affiliations in your profile. You will be able to opt in to all of them at once or select the pages you want to “like”. Once you make your choice, any text you’d previously had for the current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests sections of your profile will be replaced by links to these Pages. If you want to keep those details in your profile (city, education, work etc) then you’ll do it in the bio section of the page or bring in applications like notes to add content to your profile.

Oh, and when you make your selections remember those pages are all public information and now they are showing right there on your profile. For example you can set your settings on your profile so only certain friends see what pages you are connected to, but if you’ve posted on that page’s wall it’s public information and searchable by the search engines.

Choose wisely and check your privacy settings.

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