In an unannounced move yesterday, Facebook began requiring Page owners to have at least 10,000 fans or pay at least $25,000 in advertising in order to set application tabs as landing pages. But now it has reverted to letting anyone set a tab as a landing page, following widespread dissent.
[Update: A new statement on the change, from Facebook:
As of last night, we’ve removed the recently-added authentication requirement for setting custom landing tabs on Pages. The requirement was instituted as part of a Pages quality initiative, and we apologize for the inconvenience this caused to our developer and business community. We are re-investigating the situation, and will not make any further changes without first giving our community standard notice and lead-time.]
Pages are used by businesses large and small to reach Facebook users, and come with a variety of customizable features. Page owners can set application tabs to appear when a user first goes to the Page URL, a key way to promote sales or marketing campaigns to visitors.
BrandGlue‘s Jeff Widman quantifies the effect:
We ran an A/B test just four weeks ago to guesstimate the efficacy of a landing tab. We drove visitors to the fan page of a major brand using ads. Those ad-driven visitors converted to fans at a rate of approximately 47% WITH a landing tab. When we turned off the landing tab, those same ad-driven visitors converted to fans at approximately 23%. A VERY noticeable loss in conversions over the course of the campaign.
Why did Facebook add the landing page restrictions change in the first place? Some have speculated that one motive may have been to force small Page owners to pay for advertising — but this would be a nonsensical rationale for Facebook to have, because many small businesses who use Pages wouldn’t be able to pay the amount anyway. The move actually encourages them to use Pages less.
The limitations Facebook added were more likely meant as barriers to preclude spammers and scammers from setting up their own tabs filled with low-quality or misleading content. We’ve seen an increase lately in activity amongst spammers using Page app landing tabs to mislead users into spamming their friends or fork over personal information.
In any case, the outcry of many Page owners and Page management companies seems to have prompted a quick reversion by Facebook, although the company hasn’t said much about what’s going on. Here’s its now-dated message to concerned people in its developer forum, from yesterday:
We apologize for not messaging this earlier. Facebook recently made a change requiring that Pages be authenticated before enabling the ability to set a landing tab beyond Wall or Info. To be eligible for authentication, a Page must have greater than 10k fans or the Page admin must work with their ads account manager. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the authentication process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative.