When Facebook overhauled Pages in February, one positive outcome was the new flexibility to choose (or change) the category for your business Page.
Previously, your category choice was locked in. So, this was definitely a welcome upgrade.
Now Facebook is asking selected Page admins to confirm their category and I happened to be one of them. Needless to say this is raising questions. Why?
Search Drives the Web
Whenever there is a new turn in the road with respect to the social networks, you can bet the reason has to do with search. Search is why we all do this, although for different reasons. Your reasons are to be found by new customers for your business; Facebook's objective is to make money by selling ads.
You share content that helps more future customers to Like your small business, and Facebook sells advertising to encourage the process by generating more income. Everyone wins.
Categories and Your Business Model
To determine your best category choice, my recommendation is give strong consideration to your business model – i.e. how you generate income. This may not be so apparent for every small business.
For example, while I gave a great deal of consideration to my category when I established the Jeff Korhan page several months ago, I wanted to be sure before confirming with Facebook today. So, I looked at other sites such as Social Media Examiner, where I am a guest blogger.
Their Facebook Page is categorized as Media/News/Publishing. I considered using that category because it is more representative of my Facebook Page purpose – to engage an audience by sharing valuable new social media and Internet marketing content – news that small businesses can use to grow.
However, unlike Social Media Examiner, which generates revenue directly from media events, such as the upcoming Social Media Summit, my income is primarily from speaking engagements and consulting. This is why I chose the Consulting/Business Services category.
Help Facebook Categorize Your Page
Facebook is intentionally forcing you to pick a specific category from a list so that they can more readily index your business Page and use it to send more traffic to it via ads that generate revenue for Facebook.
This is why you should eagerly comply.
I did some comparisons with some of my colleagues and discovered their pages are categorized as Small Business. This is a good category, but the problem is its no longer on Facebook's list – evidently pre-dating the present system - one that is gearing up for social search.
So, when Facebook sells ads they will ask the advertisers to choose a category to target. If you have a grandfathered category for your Page that is no longer on their list, you will be less likely to be discovered by new customers. It's that simple.
Categories with Facebook are a two-step process. First you choose from column A, then they give you a corresponding list to choose from in column B.
Here is the column B you receive when you choose Companies and Organizations in column A, as I did.
This secondary list will be completely different if you choose Local Business as your primary column A category. Out of curiosity, I selected Other in column A and the only secondary column B choice was Community.
Community is where Facebook would like to place all of us because it helps them to direct a larger audience to our Pages, giving them the ability to sell more ads. Think of this as the Yellow Pages. That's right, you'll get more traffic, but you'll spend a lot of time sifting to find the customers that are right for you.
So, you can see that when you try to operate by your rules and try to be all things to all people you are only helping Facebook. They win, but not you.
Define your category well and you will be more likely to achieve alignment – bringing in new prospects that you can more readily convert to customers.
Don't wait for Facebook to prompt you. Choose the right category for your Facebook Page now so that you can be ready for what's coming - Social search.
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Until tomorrow, Jeff