Facebook’s Default Landing Page Is Going Away on Timeline. Now What?

Editor’s Note: As of August 7, 2014 Facebook announced an update to its Platform Policy, prohibiting the practice of like-gating. With this update, businesses still have the opportunity to require users take a specific action, such as sharing their email address. For more information, read our post on action-gating.   

As Facebook Pages are converted to the new Timeline format, you may be worried about the impact this change will have on your Facebook marketing.

In particular, as of March 30, the ability to set a default landing page or “welcome tab” is going away.

This means that new visitors to your Page will no longer be directed to a special page that you set up to welcome them. Instead, they will go directly to the Timeline wall.

Not surprisingly, this has caused a lot of concern and confusion.

Does it mean that the practice of “Like-Gating,” or creating custom pages to offer something special to new fans in exchange for a “Like” of your Page, is now obsolete?

Let’s take a closer look at what the switch to Timeline and the removal of the default landing page really means for your Page.

The default landing page didn’t work like you thought it did

Sure, in theory, it was great to have a default page to welcome new visitors and entice them with an exclusive offer for “Liking” your Page. But in reality, “set it and forget it” is no way to manage your Facebook Page.

“Like-Gating” isn’t going away. But now there’s even more emphasis put on the importance of promoting your “Like-Gated” offer specifically.

In order to see real growth, you need to be actively driving people to the landing page via email, Facebook posts, and promotion on other social networks. This promotion is the key to gaining new “Likes” for your Page and having people act on your offer.

For example, Sugaree’s Bakery promoted a coupon they created on a Facebook landing page with Constant Contact. By sending people a link that led directly to their “Like-Gated” offer, the bakery gained more than 200 new “Likes” over the course of four days.

BellaSoleil.com, a Tuscan home-décor retailer, received 75 new “Likes” within the first two hours after it sent out an email promoting its “Reveal a Deal” social campaign. The promotion of this social campaign also led to nearly $10,000 in revenue.

Do you think these results would have been as good if the businesses relied solely on the default landing page without promoting it to their networks?

It’s all about engaging your existing network

You already know how important word of mouth referrals are to your business. When you create and promote exclusive offers to your Facebook fans, you’re really doing two things:

1. You’re providing them with what they want. Our research shows that the top three reasons people “Like” a Page on Facebook are for promotions and discounts, exclusive content, and continued support of an organization. When these things are relevant to your existing or potential fans, the more likely they are to respond and stick around for more.

2. You’re increasing your potential to reach your next customers. As people engage and interact with the landing pages you create, their friends see these interactions and the offers you’re providing. And it’s likely that your fans’ friends would want to take you up on the offer as well.

Again, the reason behind your landing pages gaining any traction is promotion — from you to your existing connections, and from those connections to their networks. And the framework on which Facebook is built makes it really easy to reach new customers with these social campaigns.

But can’t you just run promotions on your own website? Why bother with Facebook landing pages?

Absolutely, you can run promotions away from Facebook. But it works better to start new relationships and build on existing relationships where your people are already spending their time. Eventually, you’ll look to bring people to your own turf, such as your blog, website, or email list. Each of these tools feed one another.

But that is a gradual process that happens over time. The easier you make it for people to opt in and share content on Facebook without having to go off-site, the better your chances of people taking the action you’d like.

Timeline is built with engagement and relationships in mind

Even though the default landing page is going away, Timeline has some real advantages.

The new Page layout is more visually engaging, you can “pin” (Facebook’s word for “lock”) select posts at the top of your Page (hopefully, the ones that lead to your “Like-Gated” landing pages), and you can also set the tab links (including their images) visitors see on the upper portion of your Page (you can include text with these tabs to entice visitors to click through to your special offer as well.)

And of course, Timeline allows you to enter milestones about your business or organization to better tell your story and offer additional ways for your fans to deepen their ties with you.

example of tabs on Facebook's Timeline for Pages

The bottom line

Timeline actually encourages YOU to take action and engage with your current and potential fans.

And taking away the default landing page is a great motivator to use Facebook in a more focused way. It means you can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. You need to be driving engagement around your Facebook Page and the landing pages you create. And we have plenty of tips to help you do just that.

What are your thoughts on Facebook retiring the default landing page? Do you think it will encourage businesses to be more focused on how they are using the social network? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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