Facebook Timeline For Pages Kills Marketing Feature: Default Landing Tabs

Amongst the beautiful covers and pinned posts, there’s one disadvantage of the new Facebook Timeline for Pages redesign. Pages can no longer display one of their custom applications as their default landing tab that non-fans first see when they visit. This powerful marketing feature let Pages set up a welcome app that teased special content like contests or coupons, but required users to Like the Page for access.

Without default landing tabs, non-fans have to actively click through the little app tiles overshadowed by a Page’s cover. Many won’t, and it will cost marketers Likes as well as email signups, contest entries, and other key performance indicators. The change is a noble one that prioritizes the user experience and the site’s long-term health, but several marketers I’ve talked to are already grumbling.

[Update: This feature sunset isn’t so bad after all. I’ve just learned from a source that default landing tabs only drive 10% of the total Page app traffic. 90% comes from published links and ads, which still function the same without the default landing tab capability. And when does Facebook make a change that doesn’t cause some people to grumble?

In the end, this is good for the user experience, it could only cause a maximum of a 10% drop in Page app traffic, and much of the way Pages use apps stays the same. Those most effected will be small Pages who rely on random inbound traffic, may have been duping unwitting users, and that are unable to pay for ads. This article has been significantly edited to include this perspective.]

Default landing tabs were widely known as a Facebook Page marketing tactic. They gave Pages total control over the first thing potential fans saw when they visited. While Timeline’s cover image does permit enhanced branding without the need for third-party apps, it also comes with restrictions. As I explain in my breakdown of all the new Facebook Timeline for Pages features, “Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features such as “Like this Page”, purchase or pricing info such as “40% off” or “Download at our website”, or contact information such as web address.”

The only alternative for brands trying to drive organic Page traffic to their apps now is to swap their Welcome app or other important app into one of the small tiles below the cover, and then repeatedly pin a link to the app at the top of their Timeline feed. These tactics that require user action won’t drive nearly as many impressions and engagements as default landing tabs once did. Instead, it will increase reliance on the news feed and ads as drivers of Page app traffic.

Facebook’s goal was likely to make Pages more about storytelling than product selling. And it worked. Pages look beautiful, and they don’t feel like billboards or smarmy marketing shills. Users won’t be fooled into thinking they can’t post to a Page’s wall or view its info or photos without Liking first. Their first interaction with a brand will be seeing its organic content and what their friends are saying. That’s good for users, and it will keep Facebook a place people want to spend time.

In the run up to its IPO, it’s commendable that Facebook is staying loyal to its users. But the death of the default landing tab is bad for aggressive marketers. It could confirm the fear of potential shareholders that Facebook won’t put them first, but then again, it might inspire more use of ads that those looking to invest won’t mind.

Check out the rest of our Facebook Marketing Conference coverage:
Facebook Opens Timeline To All Biz Pages, Mandatory After 30 Days Of Curation

How To Use Facebook Timeline For Brand Pages: New Feature Details

Liveblogging Facebook’s Marketing Keynote With Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook Reveals Mobile News Feed Ads and Massive Logout Page Ads

Business Data Reporting In 5-10 Minutes, Not Days. Facebook Rolls Out Real-Time Insights

Your Average Facebook Post Only Reaches 16% Of Your Friends