Oh, the regrets. Things happen. We start heading down the wrong direction and suddenly we find ourselves in a bad place. What am I talking about? Facebook pages. Most businesses have them. Most businesses are doing them wrong. Some have done them so wrong in the past that it’s better to start from scratch. As much pain as that may cause, the alternative is worse.
The way that the EdgeRank algorithm works combined with the improved effectiveness of Facebook advertising make it necessary in some cases to dump a page and start over. Having too many low-quality Facebook fans can hurt your chances for the good fans to ever see your messages. Local businesses should shoot for a minimum of 80% local likes, preferably around 95%. These likes should be acquired using transparent techniques. “Coaxing” people into liking your page because they think they’ll win an iPad or get to play a cool game is a bad way to go about getting fans, even if they are local.
So, you’re sitting there with bad fans. Facebook gives you the ability to delete fans, but that means going through them one at a time, clicking remove, confirming that you want to remove them, and then waiting for it to work. The process is tedious and Facebook only allows you to go back and see the last 500 likes. This makes manual pruning of your following impossible if your page has a lot of fans unless you’re going to delete everyone without seeing if they’re local. That poses potential challenges as well because if a ton of damage was done to your EdgeRank, you’ll still be carrying over that damage even after you delete everyone.
The bottom line is this: some are in a position where it’s best to start over. If you have questions about whether or not that applies to you, feel free to contact me and I’ll take a look. In the meantime, here’s how to go about making it happen.
Step 1: Build a replacement page
You never want to go for an extended period of time without a Facebook page that is relevant and vibrant. You’ll want the new page up and running before removing the old one. To do this, create a brand new page with a variation of your name. For example, let’s say your current Facebook page is at /ABC.Toyota and you’re in Dallas, you would want to create a page called /ABC.Toyota.Dallas. Get content going on the page, then start promoting it transparently with Facebook ads.
Once it’s up to an acceptable level, it’s time to make the switch.
Step 2: Switch the old page to a new URL
The first instinct would be to delete the old page. You’ll want to move it, first. Deleting a page takes 14 days. By moving it to a new URL, you’ll have access to the old URL for your new page immediately. On the old Facebook page, click on “Edit Settings”.
Click on “Change username” under “Basic Information”.
Once there, it will give you the option (if you haven’t changed it already) to pick a different URL for your Facebook page. Make it something semi-useful, /ABC.Toyota.Service, for example. You can only change a Facebook URL one time, so make sure it’s a good one. The reason you’ll want to make it something useful is so that you’ll have options. You may not want to completely delete the old one even with the bad fans. It can be a passive Facebook presence addressing a niche need, for example. In this case, it might be used to post service specials and pictures of Toyotas in the shop, for example. You can always delete it completely, of course.
You’ll want to change the address or delete it altogether from the backend. This will prevent this page from popping up as a “place” where people can check in.
Step 3: Change the new page URL
Now you can do the same thing with the new page you built. Change it to the original business URL. Make sure your data is set with the business address. It takes a few days for it to be picked up as a local place in Facebook, but that’s okay. Check-ins (currently) have very little value for the page itself other than running check-in specials (which you can do immediately) and to get the exposure as other people share their location. In other words, the accumulation of checkins isn’t that big of a deal for most businesses. There’s a little backlash in that who visit your page won’t see their friends who have also visited the page, but unless you have thousands of checkins accumulated, it won’t hurt to start over.
If you do have thousands of people who have checked in at the location, you shouldn’t be replacing the page. In that scenario, it’s best to go through the manual process of pruning your fans. This can take hours, even days if you have a lot of followers and you’ll still have the negative impact on the algorithm to deal with, but it’s better than losing a ton of credibility, particularly if graph search becomes important in the future (today, it’s just not that big of a deal and few people are using it to find businesses).
By running a check-in offer, you’ll be able to make sure that the page is properly accepted as a place. That doesn’t mean it will show up on mobile devices immediately. Unfortunately, Facebook says it takes “a few days” before this happens, which really means a couple of weeks.
Step 4: Delete or repurpose the old page
If you delete the old page, it will take 14 days. This is recommended if you don’t have time to properly manage two pages. If you do not want to delete it, you can repurpose it just as we suggested in the example above. In that scenario, it becomes a light landing page that some people will use. Because the page was algorithmically hampered, it won’t show up in users’ news feeds very well but it can be used for niche purposes.
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It’s really a case by case basis scenario. Deciding whether or not to start over is something that should be based upon analysis, pros, and cons.