Is Timeline Killing Brand Engagement On Tabs?
CNN recenlty published a great article on the disappearance of Facebook tabs after the introduction of Timeline. The article mentions the “permanent beta” approach and how this has impacted the service, both for end users and brands that are leveraging Facebook.
More specifically, the article explains how Facebook’s Timeline is affecting brand pages that are highly dependent on Facebook tabs, and the products centered on tab-building. According to PageLever, a firm specializing in Facebook analytics, user engagement with tabs on Facebook Pages is down a staggering 53% since Timeline launched.
The findings were drawn from approximately 500 Pages with more than 10,000 fans. In the image below, you can see tab engagement begins to decline on the day brands were able to opt-in to Timeline. The engagement drops even further on March 30, the day all brand pages were forced to convert. The regular spikes you see in the chart are mark activity on the weekends as users tend to explore Facebook pages more weekends.
Let’s take a closer look on what exactly could be the reason why the engagement has dropped. We’ll take the Coca-Cola Facebook page as an example. Here’s the page, before the introduction of Timeline:
Before Timeline, page owners could set a custom tab as a default landing page for fans and non-fans, such as the one the Coca-Cola example. Brands could instantly engage their audience with compelling content such as video, photos and even flashy animations.
Timeline has only one option for the default landing page and that is the Timeline page, such as you can see below in the current Timeline page of Coca-Cola below.
So this means that you need to change your Facebook content strategy into a more content-engagement-driven kind of strategy, in order to keep up with your audience. Tabs and applications still have an important role, but Facebook basically forced brands and page owners to create more meaningful experiences, not just fan-gated pages with minimal value, such as: ‘Like us first, otherwise we don’t show you our magic beans‘, something many brands still use, including my own clients.
Basically this means that the engagement with your audience has moved more and more to the Timeline. By that I don’t just mean Timeline as in your brand page (be honest, how many Timeline pages of other brands do you really visit from a consumer point of view?), but the main Timeline of your audience, which is filled with a pile of content from an average of 150 friends and postings from around 80 pages, groups and events which your audience has liked.
Mashable recently posted a great article which can help Facebook content managers how to create the right type of engagement viaTimeline postings for your brand. A summary of the tips:
- ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, maybe even a thousand likes
- Use “fill in the blanks’ in your postings, these are great for your audience to share their creativity
- Photo captions bring the best of the two items above
- Asking questions is probably one of the easiest methods to get fans to comment and share their thoughts.
- Tips are ideas that fans are able to consume and implement easily.
- Quotes are one of the easiest and most popular ways to get likes and shares on Facebook.
It doesn’t seems like rocket science! Add the above into your 4 C’s of Community and you could have a solid strategy. Combine it with refreshing and innovative creativity and you could have a winning strategy!
So although engagement on pages is decreasing, tabs and applications still have an important role. So take a closer look how you can promote your tabs in order to push traffic to your tabs. We’ll take the Coca-Cola page again as an example:
The first thing you notice when visiting a Page is the big cover photo on the top of the page. This option is great for branding, but beware of the Facebook rules regarding the cover photo! Facebook has decided that covers may not include:
- price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
- contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
- references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
- calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
It seems that Coca-Cola is aware of these rules. But there are many brands that don’t even know it, such as the Virgin Megastore in France:
As Facebook reserves the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason, you might consider changing your strategy here. I don’t target the French market with our company, so could be a great lead if you situated in France!
Eventually users need to click on the tab images, that are a lot bigger than the old tab symbols, but many times poorly used. Did you noticed any of the Coca-Cola tab images? Or do you need to scroll back now? And if you scroll back, please notice that Coca-Cola has 8 tans in total, you can tell by the small 8 on the right, next to the first 4 tabs. I bet, unless you know that this indicates that there are more tabs, the majority of visitors hardly notice that there are more tabs.
Although 45 million likes is something to show-off with, Coca-Cola misses the opportunity to show an extra tab promotab. Even with the tab image brands can be far more creative, compare these poor tab images with some random clear images, which one would you rather click on?
My advice to brands: focus on the entire Facebook experience: your Page, but most of all your Timeline content. It forces Brands tot tell more engaging stories than they do now. But I also predict a downside to these developments. Did you mention how many of the content in your timeline comes from brands? If more brands are developing better content strategies,eventually these situations could occur:
- Users will hide your stories in their Timeline, they have seen enough creative usages of your name or product in a funny image
- Users will start unliking your page because they actually don’t really like your brand. They clicked ‘like’ once because of that funny app or posting, but they’re realize that they’re not engaged enough
- Users will start leaving Facebook for alternatives like Path or Mobli on mobile. Facebook was meant for you and your friends, now at seems like one big billboard for advertisers. They don’t move to Google+ as it tends to become exactly the same. And hey, who uses a desktop or laptop for social networking? It’s all about smartphones and tablets these days! ‘Facebook keeps on crashing on my iPad, so I’m done with it!’
Of course these are all hypothetical situations, but some other remarkable Facebook news could prove if these thougts could be correct in the near future:
The American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), which measures consumer satisfaction for Internet and social media annually, came up with a reasonable explanantion. It seems that Facebook users are not as positive about the service anymore, due the latest changes. There is frustration about the ads and the slow mobile apps.
So, what are your thoughts on this? If you are a Page owner, or manage Pages for clients: have you noticed a decline in tab engagement? Did you change your strategy?
About the author
Laurens Bianchi is an online marketing professional from the Netherlands and has been blogging on ViralBlog since 2008. Currently Laurens is a Managing Partner and Commercial Director at ICON&Co. Within the company Laurens is responsible for online and social media consultancy.
Follow Category?Facebook Marketing
Follow Author?Laurens Bianchi