Facebook Moves Away From FBML (And What This Means For Your Page Tabs)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Facebook recently changed the Page layout. But another change was announced that seems to have slid under the radar of most Page admins: the deprecation of FBML.

No More Static FBML

FBML (Facebook Markup Language) will no longer be supported as of March 11, 2011. Facebook claims that old tabs will still work, but no new tabs can be created with FBML apps. Facebook tabs will all have to be made with CSS and iFrames, making it harder for Page Admins to create their own custom tabs.

Current FBML Tab Bug

Also making it harder for Page Admins? A Facebook bug that is randomly renaming current FBML tabs to FBML or some derivative of that, overriding the custom tab title as it is displayed on the Page. It looks fine in the backend of the app but stubbornly refuses to show up the way you intended it to on the live display of the Page.

So far, I’ve found that copying and pasting your original FBML tab code into a new FBML box and switching out the tabs will solve the problem. But this will likely stop working after March 11, when new Pages will no longer be allowed to add the FBML app. Tabs created pre-March 11 are supposed to work indefinitely, but it’s unclear whether existing Pages will be able to create a new tab with their current FBML app of choice that’s already installed on the Page. (My guess is no.)

The New Facebook Page Layout

Your best bet? Preview the new Facebook Page layout now and get ready to switch. I haven’t seen any instances of this FBML bug on the new layout, which displays tabs on the left, as opposed to the top, of the Page. (Yes, the conspiracy theorist in me is convinced this “bug” is intended to make people switch faster.)

Take your time and figure out what you need to help your Page look its best in the new layout. The biggest challenge for many will be selecting the five photos to display across the top. They should represent your brand without being a set of boring logos, or confusing event shots that don’t immediately seem connected to your company or Page.

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Why I Still Love (Some) Advertising

Wednesday, 09 February 2011

I’m not a big football fan, but I love Superbowl commercials. Last year I DVRed the game to skip to the ads, and this year I just watched them online the next day. And I have to say, Bud Light is slipping. Remember the frogs? They were fun. The King of Beers’ last few ads have been kind of a letdown. And only one commercial really stood out for me this year.

What Advertising Should Be

The Chrysler “Born of Fire/Detroit” ad from Weiden+Kennedy is what commercials should be. OK, maybe it’s a tad overdone, but it stood out from the clutter and got people talking. It was moving. It actually made me want to buy a car. Add the use of hometown hero Eminem and a slightly cheeky tagline “Imported from Detroit” and you have a clear winner.

Contrast that with a Doritos ad that made me nauseous, Coke ads that left me scratching my head and a general un-fun feeling from beer ads that are meant to be about hanging out with friends. This is why traditional advertising doesn’t work. This is why brands are including hashtags in their calls to action and driving viewers to Facebook. Because they can’t create good commercials.

Social media isn’t killing advertising. It’s killing itself. Every oddly animated animal is making people turn off the TV and head for the computer. And the one day a year that usually celebrates traditional television advertising was overwhelmingly underwhelming. Don’t blame social media marketers and Facebook developers for your campaign flops. Take a hard look at your commercial or print ad and ask yourself if anyone would want to look at that, online or off.

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MBTA Customer “Service” Fail

Tuesday, 08 February 2011

No other brand could get away with treating people the way the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit “Authority”) does. Except perhaps NSTAR, Boston’s other unfair monopoly business. If you are unhappy with the service at a restaurant or store, you shop or eat somewhere else. But if you dare to complain about the MBTA, they tell you to buy a car. (Yes, really. I’ve heard them.)

A Lesson in Customer Disservice

Today I left my house at 7:55am. I walked a few minutes to the bus stop, just in time to see an overpacked bus drive by. Then another one, and another one until finally the fourth bus stopped and I managed to cram on with all the other unhappy commuters. Smooshed unsafely with nothing to hold on to, I’ve now got a nice bruise forming for my trouble.

We arrive at Broadway Station, and the T turnstyle charges me for a full fare, not a transfer like it should. Now I’m late, cold, annoyed, and out an extra $1.50. I head to the train platform and am greeted by hundreds more pissed off South Boston commuters. This time, only two overpacked red line trains go by before I manage to get on. Things are looking up!

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