Facebook fan page tabs / apps are DEAD
Its official Facebook has killed the fan page tab / app.
Well guys is was a great ride but now its over. Facebook has finally driven the last nail in the coffin of the fan page tab / app.
A couple of years ago putting tabs on a fan page was a great thing. You could set your fan page so that anyone who visited your fan page would be redirected to a specific tab. You could put a ‘fan gate’ on that tab requiring the user to like the page in order to see the pages content. Even better you could use these gated tabs to run contests, deals and all sorts of other things, giving people an incentive to like your page and become a fan.
The first blow to the fan page tab came about 2 years ago when Facebook switched over to the timeline layout and removed the custom landing tab option. This one was a real thorn in the side of app developers. However despite a lot of resistance Facebook made the change permanent. Fortunately page owners found a way around this. While you could not create a custom landing page anymore you could still run Facebook ads that sent people who clicked directly to the apps on your page. A lot of people took this to mean that the free ride was over and Facebook wanted to start making money from fan pages. Most accepted this as reasonable, the ad costs where low, and the benefit of getting fans was worth spending a few dollars a day.
The second blow came when people started realizing that most of their fans where not coming back to their fan page. They would visit once, normally by clicking an ad, go through a fan gated app, and afterword only interact with the fan page through the pages posts which would then show in their news feed. Right after this came the edge rank nightmare where people began to see their post engagement plummet. It seemed Facebook was not happy with just getting ad revenue when people built up their fan base, they also wanted the pages to start getting paid ‘(via boosted posts) when fan page owners wanted to interact with their fans. Don’t pay and only around 10-15% of the fans would see your post. This one nearly killed the fan page outright. People hated the fact that Facebook seemed to be ‘double dipping’ and trying to make money not only from building fans but also from interacting with them. Fortunately once again people found a way around this. They realized that by making high quality posts that sparked engagement they could increase their affinity with their fans and ultimately the posts edge rank. Basically they began to understand that by posting quality content that fans wanted to see they could greatly increase the number of their fans that would see the post.
The third attack on the fan page tab might have actually been the most minor of all. This one was more of a minor annoyance. You see when Facebook originally moved over to the timeline layout their where ‘tab icons’ underneath the cover photo. Page owners and developers could upload custom graphics for these icons which when clicked would take the user to the tab / app. Well Facebook quietly removed these icons in favor of a timid text drop down menu. As I said though this was a minor thing for two reasons. First: the fans where interacting with the posts and not coming to the pages anyway and second: in practice the only real way people where ending up on a tab app was when they clicked an ad. This did not change at all.
Finally came the killer. Well I shouldn’t say it ‘came’ I should say its coming since it does not officially go into effect until November 5th 2014. So what is it? No more fan gating. That’s right you can no longer require a visitor to a tab on your fan page to like the page to continue. What makes this so bad is that getting the like was the entire point. Getting a like was the motivation that sparked thousands of apps, that fueled app builders and company’s like FanpageEngine, Lujure, PageMoto, Tab Engine, that brought contests, deals, sweepstakes and coupons to Facebook. It was the incentive of getting the page like that fueled it all. Well now that’s gone.
So basically what we are left with is this:
No more custom landing pages
No more prominent icons on the fan page
Fans hardly visit your fan page anyway
No more fan gating
(oh and I almost forgot to mention tabs never worked on mobile devices either)
Because of this Im officially declaring the fan page tab / app dead!
So what is Facebooks justification for removing the fan gating from page tabs? They say that they want fans to like a page because they like the page, not because they are giving some incentive to like the page. However I have to disagree with this logic. Think about this. If Im liking page XYZ so I can get a coupon or discount for XYZ’s products or services then its a fairly safe bet that I like XYZ company. After all I want a coupon for their product or service so I must be interested in them. Unfortunately Facebook either did not consider this or does not agree with that thinking. Either way there is really almost no incentive anymore to put a page / tab on your fan page.
So where do we go from here?
To the timeline we go! Facebook now allows contests and sweepstakes in a pages timeline and by boosting a post you can get a great number of people to see the post at a low cost. Also while you can no longer require people to like a page to get a incentive (such as a deal or coupon or a chance to win) you can require them to like a post to enter. The only question is if people are going to accept, embrace, and ultimatly take advantage of this shift in how Facebook marketing is done.
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