I see an interesting quandary and one that isn’t probably going to get sorted out until post March 30.

I’m trying to understand the value Static Welcome Pages will have after Facebook introduces the new Corporate Timelines at the end of the month. A brief background on Facebook apps.

Here are the three types of apps as our team distinguishes them:

1. Static Welcome Pages – They act as a default landing page and their sole purpose is to get a visitor to click “Like.” You’d do so through engaging design, a “like us” arrow pointing up to the Like button (gotta make it easy for people), and a short list of benefits to becoming a member.

2. Lead Acquisition Pages – They can also act as a default landing page but their purpose is to acquire lead information. You can facilitate this by doing sweepstakes or content giveaways (ie. e-reports).

3. Viral Reach Pages – Like the previous two types of pages, Viral Reach Pages too can act as a default landing page but their purpose is to empower the user to share the brand’s page in their social networks. This is where you get into contests that involve voting to win. See a Facebook Contest tbk Creative is running for Partners Promoting the Importance of Early Childhood Education over at Choosing Child Care in London & Middlesex Facebook Page as an example.

Here’s what’s to know about the March 30 changes in this regard:

  1. All three types of apps above will exist post March 30 (as an aside, your designer/programmer is given more room in width to build – 810 pixels).
  2. Brands will no longer be able to set an app as its default landing page (all three apps apply).
  3. Your subpages (including your Static Welcome Page) will still have a custom URL that you could use to drive non fans to (this can be facilitated easily through email marketing or online advertising like Facebook’s PPC). However, again, if someone goes directly to your regular brand’s Facebook URL (ie. www.facebook.com/timhortons), they will always land on your Timeline page first.
  4. Facebook’s layout around your subpages are different than before. It looks more bare and lacks the fan count number that your community has on this particular page (people can still like your page from this page though).
  5. Fan gating will still apply. What that means is, programmers can setup the app so that someone must become a fan before using it (great for e-reports & contest apps). With these upcoming changes in mind, I believe there’s going to be a stronger and stronger need for you to use apps that have a greater utility than just a static Welcome Page.

Here’s my thinking why:

Scenario A (Pre March 30)

You have a static Welcome Page. 99% of all new visitors (not fans) land on it first. It’s simple and does its job of communicating why visitors should become a fan along with a strong call to action.

Scenario B (Post March 30)

You have a static Welcome Page. Now, only 50% of all new visitors (not fans) land on it first. The 50% is a broad but educated assumption I’m making. I’m assuming 50% give or take, but certainly much less than scenario A. A large portion will find your Timeline page through your print collateral, verbal communications etc. and a large portion may find it through your website plug-in, email marketing, digital advertising etc. (because in these instances you could use the custom URL representing this page). If my general assumption above holds true, when getting 50% of new visitors to your landing page (doesn’t matter which type of app), you’ll want to maximize this interaction. I believe in the future contests, sweepstakes, e-report giveaways etc. will provide the most value for your brand. In other words, instances where your brand receives either a qualified lead or additional reach (through them sharing the page) along with, of course, the Like. The one benefit of these types of apps as well, is when you list them on your main timeline, the icon will be more enticing for a new fan to click than the previous Wall (see tbk Creative’s Cover Photo below for Canada’s $25,000 Website Charity Challenge Campaign).

tbk Cover

To put this topic to rest, what I’d like to do is facilitate some A/B testing after March 30 and determine what produces the highest fan conversion: fans landing on a Timeline vs. fans landing on a Static Welcome Page.

What I am sure of is the future of good use of apps will rest in using your apps for something more than a Like – acquiring leads or reaching more potential customers as a result of them.

Why focus on a Like when you could get a Like + a Lead + your page going viral?

I hope this article is helpful as you plan for your Timeline transitions.

Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a London Ontario based web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands.

To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. To join tbk Creative’s growing Facebook community dedicated to optimizing your digital marketing efforts, click here.