How 8 popular brands are using Facebook tabs

Companies like Target, Delta, and Threadless are using this important feature to drive business, spark awareness, and build a deeper level of engagement.

Thousands of posts and articles have been written about the new look and feel of the Facebook Timeline feature. Many of those articles focus on the ways brands can take advantage of the new layout to create a better experience on Facebook. But little has been discussed about Facebook tabs. They’re just as important as they were before Timeline, yet they’re overshadowed by the bigger Timeline changes. Here’s how eight popular brands are using Facebook tabs to drive business, awareness, and a deeper level of engagement with fans on their Facebook pages. Starbucks drives sales through e-cards. This tab on the Starbucks Facebook page allows fans to send gift cards for the coffee chain. Through the tab, users can post a virtual gift card on a friend’s wall with just a few clicks. It spurs awareness for the coffee giant and helps it drive sales as someone who receives a $5 gift card may typically purchase more than $5 worth of coffee/bakery goodies in the store. The tab also enables fans to manage their Starbucks cards online—a feature that’s becoming increasingly popular with customers. ABC News interacts with fans through polling. Facebook fans of ABC News can use one the network’s tabs to vote in its latest poll. For example, nearly 4,000 people voted in the Mother’s Day poll last weekend. The goal is clear: Spark engagement with fans on Facebook. Not only does ABC News hope fans take the poll, but also that they share it on their walls with a simple click. Previous polls are also available to review, and results are frequently used in newscasts, which gives viewers an incentive to vote. Target builds real-time Twitter chats into the Facebook experience. Target hosts a series of Twitter chats on a regular basis with celebrities such as Julie Andrews and Sabrina Soto. Since many of Target’s fans don’t live on Twitter, the retail giant hosts and archives these Twitter chats on its Facebook page using the slick “Cover it Live” tool within this tab. The idea? Capitalize on the 12 million-plus Facebook fans Target has acquired. Delta uses tabs as another customer service channel. Delta Airlines places a lot of weight on its customer service. And why shouldn’t it? It’s an airline carrier and customer service is the name of the game. Delta is taking that seriously online. This Facebook tab is part of the big picture. In addition to a 1-800 number and Twitter handle, the tab gives customers the opportunity to lodge concerns or complaints on Facebook through a simple form. Toyota gives customers opportunities to see and chat with brand reps. Toyota uses a variety of tabs on its Facebook page, but this one is a bit different. It showcased a panel discussion from the New York Auto Show featuring Toyota representatives talking about the carmaker’s new Avalon model. The Livestream broadcast adds depth to the Facebook experience and gives fans a chance to chat live with reps from Toyota (and other customers) on the tab. The video is a bit long (more than 40 minutes), but the panel discussion goes into detail about the design behind the new car, which may interest devoted fans. Tom’s of Maine addresses customer concerns. Tom’s of Maine is a company that cares deeply about the environment and sustainability, and so do its customers. But when corporate giant Colgate-Palmolive bought the company, some customers got a little skittish. Tom’s addresses those concerns on its Facebook page with a lengthy FAQ tab. The tab gives them one page to address all manner of issues and concerns, including the ingredients the company puts in its products as well as its satisfaction guarantees. Threadless gives customers input on product design. Its not the best tab on Facebook in terms of user experience, but in this case the strategy from T-shirt maker Threadless makes sense: Engage its biggest fans (as it routinely does) on Facebook by allowing them to vote for which T-shirt designs should be produced. Threadless has made its name by doing this on its website, but now fans can do the same thing on Facebook. Clarisonic recognizes its biggest brand advocates. Clarisonic, which makes skin care products, is taking advantage of the now popular “Fan of the Month” (FOTM) trend on Facebook with its tab. This is a nice way to engage fans by casting the spotlight on them. The FOTM receives a Clarisonic system and a link to his or her profile page on the tab. The tab also encourages discussion by featuring a poll question with each FOTM. This month it’s a question around product colors. Clarisonic can use the answers to tweak product strategy down the road. Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this post originally appeared on Communications Conversations.

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