Today we make what may appear to some, as a huge decision. After much internal debate – we’re officially ending support for Facebook Tabs. Here are the top 5 reasons why killing tab support is the right thing to do.
The downfall of the tab truly started on November 5, 2014 – the day Facebook officially ended support for Like Gates.
Using Like Gates was far and away the #1 reason our customers told us they wanted to use Facebook Tabs in the first place. This change honestly didn’t make us very sad since it’s been well documented that the use of Like Gates was linked to a significant decline in actual lead conversions.
When starting ContestDomination™, it was with the clear and explicit goal of helping businesses generate more qualified leads and sales.
Like Gates were a cancer to the core mission we set out to accomplish.
To top if all off, it’s never been more clear to us that Facebook isn’t taking the tab seriously themselves. So we’re readjusting our focus accordingly.
Below are the top 5 reasons we’re removing tabs to focus on supporting more value-added features instead.
Mobile vs Desktop Traffic
Just to be clear – Facebook Tabs have never worked on mobile devices.
Even though ContestDomination™ was one of the first contest apps to natively offer 1-click tab installation in 2012, it was more of a clever workaround than a solution to make tabs “work” on mobile.
Since Facebook doesn’t support mobile devices, we gave customers a different URL to promote. This link did some smart detection to see if traffic was from a mobile or desktop device.
IF the click was coming from a desktop device, we’d look up the contest and the tab that customers wanted displayed and redirect them to the tab view.
IF the click was coming from a mobile device, we’d look up the contest and redirect to the regular old “direct” view of the contest in a browser window.
This was a natural and easy way for us to solve for this issue, since we never married ourselves to the Facebook environment like our competitors did.
Fundamentally, many people followed suit with a very similar approach.
However – this meant that even before November 5, 2014 – Like Gates didn’t work on mobile without requiring a Facebook Connect/Login (which again destroys conversion rates).
By late 2013 – only roughly 48% of Facebook traffic was from a mobile device. (TechCrunch)
By early 2015 – roughly 86% of the 1.39 billion monthly active users access Facebook from a mobile device. (Cnet)
This means, that at best only 14% of the active user base would ever see your tab view. Yet, Facebook still didn’t move to make tabs work natively on mobile.
Optimizing an experience for 14% of your customers isn’t a great use of anyones resources.
Issues with “The Fold”
Conversions are king when it comes to list building. The higher your conversion rate, the more leads you collect on the same number of clicks.
Since our goal is to help businesses generate as many qualified leads on their email list as possible, this is an important issue.
Even if you’re in the 14% of people who access Facebook from a desktop device, you’re going to get a less than ideal experience.
Take this screenshot for example – which was snapped on a 27″ Monitor.
Notice how you can barely see the top of the “Click Here To Enter!” call-to-action? The relatively narrow (by desktop standards) window for content + the space taken up at the top of the page pushes your conversion point out of view for most average screen sizes.
Our data also supports the fact that our customers were seeing improvements in conversion rates when promoting the NON-tabbed version of their contest.
The issues with the fold are only one of several other contributing factors that resulted in a decline of utility for tabs.
It’s worth noting that the ever present alert, messages and friend request icons are visible on your tabbed pages.
On top of that, if you’re running desktop traffic from Facebook Ads – you’re actually paying money for Facebook to show more ads.
Paying for traffic that may click someone else’s ad and leave your funnel isn’t how we like to spend our money.
Fallacy of “Cheaper Traffic”
Another common reason people gave for wanting to use tabs was for cheaper traffic. The theory goes something like this…
“Of course Facebook would charge us less if we’re paying them to send traffic to another Facebook owned property.” – Marketer who didn’t test
However, in our tests, and the tests from our peers in the industry we found that to be the exception instead of the rule.
If you correctly value cost per lead above vanity metrics, then sending your hard earned (or purchased) traffic to a tab is not the more efficient use of your efforts.
The Devaluation of Likes
Likes have been mostly relegated to social proof and a vanity number that doesn’t have a meaningful impact on your business.
Facebook posts from your fan page used to get around 16% organic reach.
Today, an average Fan Page gets 1% or less organic distribution to those who have liked their page. Imagine if your email marketing company only sent your broadcast to 1% of your subscribers… The savvy marketer would be looking for a new provider or channel ASAP.
If your core reason for running a contest was to increase the likes on your page, we’ve never been the best solution for that – since it’s never been our mission.
We’ve always had a vision of helping you generate email subscribers as the core objective, with Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers etc as a secondary goal.
Just because Likes aren’t worth as much as they were before, it doesn’t mean they are worthless. More always equals more – even if your Like audience is less effective than it used to be.
You just simply shouldn’t make the number of likes your primary metric of success – at least if you’re wanting to actually generate more customers.
Note: If you are interested in generating likes from your ideal audience for social proof, running a simple Like campaign using Facebook Ads is going to help you scratch that itch better than any 3rd party software at this point.
Bonus Reason: API Changes
If you don’t care about the technical reasons on why we were motivated to stop integrating deeply with Facebook.. you can skip this section.
On April 30, 2015 – Facebook pushed their v2 API and fundamentally changed how they work with application developers.
For us, this meant that new customers and existing customers who were clearing their connection found that they suddenly lost functionality.
This is what they found, even after verifying that there were fan pages that they administer (and having previously experienced flawless access).
This is due to the fact that Facebook disabled access to their manage_pages and publish_pages protocols with the new API changes.
In order to get that functionality back there’s a murky manual review process, which is equivalent to trying to run backwards, up-stairs while blind-folded.
Technically it’s possible – but Facebook certainly isn’t making the process easy for advanced apps to extend the functionality and usefulness of Facebook.
It’s this kind of frustration and overhead that makes creating quality apps on Facebook as bad as trying to support IE6 users. Eventually the price is just too high to maintain.
In our case, we felt that the “frustration tax” was simply too high, with too few benefits to make it worthwhile for all involved.
After looking at the raw conversion data, and talking with many of our power customers – this decision was much easier to make.
Emotionally, I really do understand why many people have a soft spot in their heart for Facebook Tabs.
After all – this is where most of the “list building on Facebook” strategies came from. (Remember when ALL traffic coming to your page could hit a tab?)
Rationally, the writing has been on the wall for a while.
We will continue to invest in making our share tools more powerful and easier to use, and we’ll continue to look at new social mechanics moving forward.
However, after a 3 year run of being insanely easy to manage your contest within a Facebook Tab.. it’s finally time to let that feature go.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at support for help.
As we start to unplug the Facebook Tab features over the next few weeks we’ll update this post with links to tutorials for removing the ContestDomination App from Facebook as the internal tools will be going away.
We’re excited to see what the future holds in a streamlined contest world without Facebook Tabs, and an increased focus on our core mission of helping you generate more qualified leads who want exactly what you do and sell.
Don’t forget you can also join our free Contest Marketing Facebook Group to discuss contest strategies or ask questions about how to best grow your business using contests.
Travis Ketchum is the Founder & CEO of Campaign Refinery and Contest Domination – helping 10’s of thousands of businesses build bigger email lists filled with qualified leads since 2012.