Facebook Takes Away, Gives Back Landing Tabs

In case you missed it, there was a lot of discussion last week regarding Facebook, small business owners, and customized landing pages. First SMB owners could have them, then they couldn’t and now they can again. So what happened? And can SMB owners really trust that they’re back for good?

In March I wrote about 5 quick ways to improve your Facebook SEO. One tactic I suggested was to create a custom landing tab (page) for your profile. I wrote that using the Static FBML app was really important if you wanted to create a page dedicated to shaping searchers experience and engaging them. The same way you create custom landing pages for your site, you could create them on Facebook to draw users in.

Unfortunately, last week Facebook revealed they’d be stripping away that feature for small business owners, limiting landing tabs to those with ‘authenticated pages’. In order to receive an authenticated page, you must have 10,000 fans or be working with someone on the Facebook ads team. That barrier essentially excluded all small business owners from being able to take advantage of one of the best marketing opportunities Facebook had to offer. Instead, it looked to force SMBs into investing their dollars in Facebook ads instead of building them organically.

Naturally, the decision from Facebook to cut away an important marketing avenue for SMBs ruffled many feathers. It felt like yet another slam from a company already alienating users. Matt McGee wrote about Facebook dropping the hammer on small biz users, as did many others, everyone echoing that Facebook had made a major missteps here.

Well, Facebook heard the criticism. And reversed the policy, giving small business owners back their customized landing tabs.

Over in the Developer Forums, admin Matt Trainer let users know Facebook had removed the authentication requirement needed for setting custom landing tabs. He noted they are re-investigating how to handle the situation, but, at least for now, they tabs are back.

It’s hard to know what Facebook will do next, but it’s my hope that they’ll leave customized landing tabs available for unauthenticated pages so that SMBs can benefit. Facebook they were initially removed as a ‘quality initiative’ but taking a viable marketing opportunity away from SMBs seems like a drastic way to combat spam.

If you’re a small business owner, I’d still recommend taking advantage of the customized landing tab, while you can. If you’re using Facebook to market your business, than it really is one of the best ways to convert visitors to fan. However, last week was also a good reminder not to ignore your blog for Facebook. Or your Web site for Facebook. You don’t own your Facebook presence, Facebook does. And they can change the rules at whim, with no notification. You need to be prepared to combat that, and that means not ignoring the properties you do own (like your Web site and blog) for shinier social media properties.

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Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

20 Reactions
  1. Lisa,

    Nothing like a little give and take, huh?

    (Or is it take and give?)

    The Franchise King

  2. Facebook’s motto seems to be “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission”. Why use focus groups or survey customers when you can just launch something and see how pissed off they get?

  3. As small businesses have limited time and money and FaceBook keeps changing things, might it not be an idea to choose another marketing tactic. There many other ways including what Lisa said about blogs to connect with your customers without constant changes that you have to worry about.

  4. Hey Lisa,
    I’m not sure that I personally want to risk the investment time with Facebook. I see your points, but your last paragraph/point is where my head has been for a while — build outside the walled garden. Don’t neglect your own blog.

    My conversations are not with consumers generally, but with small biz owners (although their business may reach consumers). So my work is b2b mostly and I can reach that group of people and start and keep a conversation going without Facebook. In fact, I can do it easier and faster outside FB. Their split personality bothers me and Robert’s comment above makes it all the more clear to me to play in a different sandbox. I’m taking my toys and going home… 😉

    I’m perplexed over why they do what they do at FB. I really am. I understand some of the tech issues and the need to protect people from hackers and spammers, but the company doesn’t explain themselves very well or at all. And a big piece of their potential revenue comes from the very people (sm biz owners) that they alienate.

    On a side note, have you seen Diaspora yet?

  5. Wow, so they pulled back from the brink of self-destruction as they noticed all their SMBs start to pack their bags. Using Facebook really has become a chore. I really wish there was an alternative because their attitude is arrogant at best.

  6. On the other hand, FB is meant to be a social network, for connecting with friends.
    How are they supposed to continue pretending that this is just a friendly, non commercial network if they keep the small businesses happy?
    I guess it all comes from their genuine, deep rooted guilt at making money from friendship 🙂

  7. Thanks Lisa – I value and appreciate your insight. Have been dragging my feet on the FBML now will definitely get cracking!

  8. I seriously doubt Facebook was concerned about the quality of non-authenticated landing tabs. They saw a potentially significant revenue opportunity (make SMB’s spend money on ads and their ad team).

    It’s like you said, don’t ignore the assets (your blog and web site) you can control – and don’t hold your breath Facebook or any other social network has your best interests always top of mind 😉

  9. Good news for those who already have build customized facebook landing page or welcome page especially for those spent much money into it. I agree with Susan, facebook policy keep changing like the weather, and the “weather” of blog is much more stable and controllable, the most important thing i learnt from this case is small business may need to play smart in social media, prioritize building blog instead of social media, social media is only one of the marketing approach.

  10. Rich @ Australian Beer Club

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the article – just installed the static FBML app on our Facebook page.