While watching a livestream of Facebook's first ever marketing conference (fMC) last month, we experienced a multitude of emotions: excited, confused, surprised, confused, curious, inspired, and confused yet again. Based on the reaction from both our social media staff and the general Twittersphere, people have questions and causes for concern, one of the main concerns being the inability to set a default landing tab for your page. While that might seem like the end of the world to some social media marketers, we found the silver lining. And then some.
The Good Ol' Days
Before the introduction of Timeline for Pages, page admins were able to choose whether they wanted Facebook users to land on the page's wall or one of its various custom tabs. Many brands relied on the default-tab feature to push non-fans to a Fangate or welcome tab that encouraged them to click "like" to gain access to the page and its fan-only content.
With the new Timeline format, admins no longer have the option to set a default landing tab. Fans and non-fans alike will land on the Timeline anytime they visit the page from a newsfeed post, Facebook search, or by manually typing in the page's web address, calling into question the need for those fangates we'd held so near and dear.
The Perks of Transparency
If you think about the way the new Timeline is laid out, with a big cover photo, a featured post pinned to the top of your page and large app icons front and center, it acts as a Fangate or welcome tab on its own. It tells the viewer, "Hey, here's what we have to offer. This what what my brand or product is all about. Here are our helpful custom apps and contests. And here's what we're talking about. Oh, and FYI, 18 of your friends already like us." Instead of telling them what they'll find on your page through a fangate, show them by letting them land on the Timeline.
If the viewers like what they see, they'll click "Like." Using the Timeline itself instead of a welcome tab or fangate is going to drastically improve the quality of your fans. People who like your page will actually LIKE your page. If they become a fan, you'll know it's because they're truly interested in joining your brand's online community, and not just because they thought they had to click "Like" to see your page's wall, info, and photos (all of which are available for everyone to see, whether they're fans or not). Instead of "judging the book by its cover," people are able to see and become a part of your brand's story before making a judgement call on whether or not they like it. High-quality fans means high-quality engagement and the chance for brands to more easily identify and cultivate brand ambassadors.
Bringing Your Apps Front and Center
Another benefit of Timeline is that people visiting your Facebook page for the first time will have no problem seeing what kind of additional apps your page offers, either. The Timeline layout makes apps much more prominent as it allows for 111 X 74 pixel images and a central location instead of the sunflower seed-sized 16 X 16 icons and left-hand placement on the original pages.
Not to mention, before Timeline the only way for a brand to promote a contest or other custom tab within the page was to add promotional messaging to the profile picture or write a post about it on the page's wall and include the link to the app. The wall post about the contest would move lower and lower on the wall as new content was added. Timeline combats this by allowing the brand to "pin" a post to the top of the page that will stay there for seven days unless a page admin "unpins" it before then. Pinned posts have an orange flag in the top right corner.
Fan-only Exclusives Aren't Going Anywhere
"But I want to be able to offer fan exclusives," you say? No problem. App developers will still have the capability of setting the visibility to fans or non fans only. So, allow everyone to see your Timeline and make sure your fan-only apps (coupons, contests, etc) have a fangate overlay that says, "Thanks for visiting our page! This contest is only open to our fans. 'Like' us to join our growing community of [brand-name] supporters." Then, once they click 'Like,' the contest tab, which is set to fan-only visibility, will appear.
Debunking the No Landing Tab Myth
Just because you can't set a contest or other custom app as the default tab doesn't mean you can't direct both fans and non-fans to it through an ad or a Facebook icon on your website or a newsletter. Each app will still have its own own unique app URL. If you want people to land on the contest or another custom app, create the app and use the app's link, not the link to the page, for your ads. Embed the app's link in the Facebook icon on your website and in newsletters.
We're sure plenty more questions will pop up as we go through this transformation including: What are Facebook Offers? How much is Facebook Premiere? What does all of this mean for small businesses? What is the Logout Experience, exactly?
Lauren Parajon is social media specialist at Standing Dog Interactive, a Dallas-based innovative online marketing agency for the hospitality and entertainment industries worldwide.