When Facebook transitioned to Timeline there were a number of changes that affected the use of tabs on a business’ Facebook page. The most important of which was that tabs could no longer be set as the default landing page for new visitors. So, where businesses once had the opportunity to welcome new visitors with a custom message, they were now left to rely on post content and community participation via Timeline. This lead many people to throw up their hands and claim that Facebook tabs no longer had much use.
I tend to disagree. While this is still true for organic page visits – facebook tabs cannot be set as default – it is not true for Facebook Advertising. With a Facebook Ad campaign, you can (and should) direct clicks to page tabs, not the Timeline. Even if your goal is just to gain Likes, a custom welcome tab is proven to drive more connections than the generic Timeline page. This is certainly the case in the campaigns we run. For contests, special promotions, offers and other calls-to-action, tabs provide the opportunity to create a fully customized and interactive message and lead users directly to the desired action and experience.
In addition to new page visitors, the use of Facebook tabs in conjunction with an ad campaign can also be highly effective in targeting current fans. Especially now, with the roll-out of Promoted and Sponsored Posts, Facebook advertisers have great flexibility in ways they can reach more of their existing community more of the time. And the same theory applies – directing fans to custom messaging and a desired action point on a tab can be more effective in reaching your desired goal than driving them to your Timeline.
One may argue that page posts alone can be used effectively to communicate messaging and calls-to-action to current fans. And, while there is truth in that sentiment, there is indeed limitation to what can be achieved through an individual page post. If you’re looking to create an extended interaction with your fans within the walls of Facebook, a page post is only the tip of the iceberg. The tab can be everything under the surface. For instance, a contest portal that displays gallery submissions and examples from brand advocates.
In sum, Tabs extend the use of a business’ Facebook page and lead toward further engagement with fans and new visitors. Without tabs, specific calls-to-action must be driven away from Facebook or confined within the context of a page post, which is not necessarily the most effective way to communicate with your community. There is truth in the statement: stay true to the medium. There is a way to achieve desired actions (email collection, registration, purchase, etc) and extended interactions while keeping Facebook users on Facebook. Create custom tabs. Seriously, they’re a great tool in the Facebook marketers tool belt. Use them wisely.