The e-mail message was alarming and ominous:

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Thinking the above message must be spam, the folks at The Inn at Mount Snow in West Dover, VT, immediately logged onto their Facebook account, where they were promptly confronted by the following message at the top of their Page:



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Definitely not spam, and according a statement provided by Facebook to Entrepreneur magazine, it's intentional.

"With millions of Pages on Facebook, we rely on our automated systems to help us best categorize them as Business or Community Pages," said a Facebook spokesperson. "As you can imagine, when sweeping through Pages of this volume our automated systems are not perfect, and occasionally some Business Pages are miscategorized as Community Pages." (Note: See the e-mail message above for Facebook's own definition of a Community Page.)

To correct this, Facebook has created an appeals process that helps business owners recategorize their Pages if they believe Facebook's automated system has made a mistake.

If your Facebook Business Page has been improperly recategorized as a Community Page, follow these steps to appeal the decision:

  1. Visit Facebook's "Request for Page Category Review" page:
     
  2. Enter your Page name (use the exact name as it appears on your Business Page).
     
  3. Enter your Page URL (ex. www.Facebook.com/TheInnAtMountSnow).
     
  4. Indicate your role in administering the Page in question (employee of the company, one the Page's official Admins, owner of the business, etc.).
     
  5. Describe the Category under which your Page resides. This part may be tricky because, let's face it, who remembers the exact category and sub-category they entered for their Business Page upon creating it? Choices include local business; brand, product, or organization; and Artist, band, or public figure.
     
  6. Click the Submit button

How long it takes for someone from Facebook to review your appeal is unknown. Research for this story indicates some businesses have waited more than two months, during which the official category status of their Page did not change.

One thing's for certain. If you receive or see a recategorization message from Facebook, don't ignore it. And while no one knows for sure what makes Facebook's automated systems flag a Business Page as being miscategorized, taking the following steps just might avoid it happening in the first place or speed along the appeals process:

  1. Secure a Vanity URL for Your Business Page: At the time they received Facebook's recategorization notice, The Inn At Mount Snow's Facebook Page URL was: http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Dover-VT/The-Inn-At-Mount-Snow/130852016965?ref=ts. While there's no way of telling for sure, Facebook's automated system may have viewed "West-Dover-VT" as being more of a Community Page attribute than a business attribute. As I point out in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook, Facebook allows Business Page owners to request a specific URL for pages. Rather than live with the Facebook-generated URL (as in the example provided above), you can tell customers to find you on Facebook at facebook.com/YourCompanyNameHere (which is what The Inn at Mount Snow has recently done). Learn more about Facebook URLs (called User Names) at www.facebook.com/username.
  1. Update Your Business Page: Customers and others --and maybe Facebook's automated system for categorizing pages--have a reasonable expectation that your business's Facebook Page is going to be kept up-to-date, and the number-one way of doing that is to create and post a consistent stream of status updates. One update per day is ideal, but if you can't do that, one every other day should suffice. Moreover, keeping the dialogue related to your business may also prove to be beneficial to avoiding recategorization.
  1. Continue adding fans: Facebook's automated system for recategorizing Business and Community Pages may rely on fan data or demographics to determine whether your page is related to a business or a cause. And if your fan base isn't growing, that might be one flag among many that your Business Page should be classified as a Community page. Whenever it's appropriate to do so, promote your Facebook Business Page, both on- and offline. In addition, post status updates and notes that are worthy of your fans commenting, liking and sharing your information with others both on and off Facebook. Here again, fan activity--especially a lack thereof--may be a flag to Facebook's recategorization system.