Posted by Jeff Adelson-Yan (@jeffadelsonyan)
In a word: yes. If it’s not dead yet, it has taken a severe hit. Mashable reported that a study revealed that tab engagement was down 53% since Facebook Timeline rolled out for brands in March. There are several reasons for this. In the old pages format, businesses could create custom tabs that functioned as landing pages (the brand could send the user to their home page, photos, an app, a giveaway, a flashy landing page with arrows to the like button, etc.). While you can still drive paid Facebook advertisements to a specific tab/app, most people have no idea where the tabs are located when they land on the timeline’s homepage organically. We’ve written about where they are and how to maximize their visibility, by the way, here and here.
So what then? Facebook is out to get us all and destroy engagement? Absolutely not. In fact, one of the purposes of Timeline was to give brands more opportunity to engage with fans with fresh and appealing content. While the flashy tabs may have aided conversions, likes or sign-ups, brands’ success with timeline relies almost wholly on the ability to update the brand page with fresh, meaningful and relevant conversation.
Tabs do still exist and many brands use them well–including interactive games, product features, giveaway/contest apps or customer highlights. But if users are not getting on these tabs when finding your page organically (from a non-paid source), it is more important to focus on developing a social media content strategy that will inspire and engage fans to share information about your brand and become brand advocates.