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Facebook removes default landing tab for new nonprofit pages


All visitors to a nonprofit's Facebook Page will be directed to the Wall. With tabs being de-emphasized, it's less obvious how new visitors can find out more about your organization.

Old Facebook Pages vs. new Facebook Pages

If you’re a nonprofit with a mailing address, you may have already received the card in the mail from Facebook: An invitation to claim your organization’s Facebook Places page. Facebook Places allows people to “check in” when they’re at your organization, publicizing you to their friends. Places also allows companies to offer “deals” to people who check in (like 10% off), although how that applies to a nonprofit is less clear.

If you already had a Facebook Page, when you go to claim your Facebook Place, you’ll be prompted to merge the two.

This new, merged page will look a little different from your old page. Among other differences, what were formerly tabs across the top of your page will now be links underneath your profile picture, similar to the new Facebook Profiles.

And that’s where the trouble starts: On your new merged Facebook Page – as the picture above shows – you will no longer be able to specify a default landing tab.

Default landing tabs are a powerful way to convert visitors to fans. Instead of new visitors simply being dumped on your Wall, nonprofits (and other companies) could create custom tabs, welcoming new visitors, introducing them to the organization, and encouraging them to “Like” the nonprofit.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced they were dropping support for new custom tabs that used Facebook Markup Language (FBML), although you could still specify a particular application tab as your landing page, including custom-page-creating applications. Indeed, a custom landing tab was recommended as a Facebook best practice for nonprofits.

Now, however, it appears all visitors to a nonprofit’s Facebook Page will be directed to the Wall. What’s more, with tabs being de-emphasized by their move to smaller links under your profile, it’s less obvious how new visitors can find out more about your organization.

Since at the moment this only appears to affect Places pages, and any existing Pages merged with a Place, it’s unclear whether this is simply a roll-out bug or something more long-term. But given that Facebook first removed the default landing tab a few months ago, reinstating it after an uproar – but only “temporarily” – I would guess that this is the direction of things on Facebook.

It’s possible that this might only apply to pages in some categories, e.g. nonprofits but not companies; I don’t have access to any company Facebook pages to investigate this on. It appears a default landing tab has never been available on things categorized as Community Pages – initially auto-generated from interests listed on profiles.

It appears that default landing tabs are not available on Places pages – or any traditional Pages “merged” with Places. My prediction is that it won’t stick around for the rest of the Pages on Facebook.

It’s not clear to me what the advantage of this is to Facebook, other than a general “standardness of experience” for users. Yet without any way to (substantially) customize the Wall, this seems like a net loss for both organizations and regular users. New visitors will no longer have an easy way to be introduced to an organization, and organizations will have to carefully cultivate their Wall to – at any moment – appeal to both current fans and new visitors.

I’m not sure what possible solutions out there, although one might be to make sure your Page’s image/logo quickly communicates exactly what your nonprofit is about.

What are your thoughts on these changes to Facebook?

Note: If you blog about this, feel free to re-use the image above, with credit. It, like everything of mine on this site, is licensed under Creative Commons.

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