Non-profit group offers cautionary tale after 4 years trying to get control of old Facebook page

GREENSBURG, Ind. — A non-profit organization contacted CBS4 Problem Solvers for help after four years trying to regain control of a defunct Facebook page.

The Arts and Cultural Council of Decatur County exists to gather people together, celebrate art and unveil public projects like a mural that was recently completed by high school students across the street from their classrooms at Greensburg High School.

"We need our kids to see that art has a large impact on their lives and that they’ll use it for the rest of their lives," board vice president Lori Durbin said.

Durbin and her fellow board members would much rather spend their time organizing events and connecting with the community, but lately they've found themselves trying to solve a problem behind their computer screens.

In 2015, the council lost control of their Facebook page when a board member stepped down and removed himself as an administrator. This left no one controlling the page and no password information to get control back. Left with little other choice, the council created a new page and began pushing community members there for information.

Board president and founding member David Fry said that cutting down on confusion between the two pages can be a weekly task.

"(At a recent event), they asked everybody to pull out your phones, go to the page and like the page. I noticed that about half of the phones in the room had the old page up," Fry said.

Fry and other board members tried to get in touch with Facebook to get the old page taken down, but without a phone number or direct email, it was difficult to get any action. Instead, Fry resorted to posting messages on the old page, pointing people to the new page in case they landed in the wrong place.

"After we had tried all of the various avenues, we reached out to you in hopes that you could help us," Fry said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers tried reaching out to Facebook through a media email, but did not hear back. Instead, we took the council's problem to Jack Shepler, who runs Ayokay, a web design and marketing company.

Shepler showed us how the council could use a platform called Facebook Business to chat with someone online. He said as more and more people use Pages, rather than profiles, to promote their businesses and organizations, it's always a good idea to add more than one administrator, in case someone drops off.

"A lot of these larger companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, they seem impossible to get a hold of, however there’s almost always a way to contact them if you are a business," Shepler said.

The council had already found a work-around: by getting more likes on the new page, it pushed the old page down in search results. Still, Shepler said in the long run it's best to merge your pages so that an old page that isn't being updated doesn't live on.

"I think it’s important for them to contact Facebook and request ownership of that page and then go through the process of merging them," Shepler said.

Fry followed Shepler's advice and did get in direct contact with a Facebook representative, who asked him to submit notarized paperwork proving the council owns the page in order to gain back control. As of Monday, Fry had submitted the paperwork and his request was pending.

In the meantime, Durbin and the rest of the board can get back to the work that drew them to the council in the first place. She said while a Facebook page may seem minor, it's become more important than ever for groups to get the word out, and it's even something that comes up when applying for grants.

"You have to be able to show that you have a presence on social media," Durbin said. "Hopefully in the next month or so, or however long it takes, we’ll be able to say this is the only Facebook page that we have."

If you have a problem you'd like CBS4 Problem Solvers to consider, contact us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.

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