Are Your Facebook Custom Tabs on Borrowed Time?

On 1st Oct 2011, social media giant Facebook will roll out a change that will break many Redcliffe companies’ custom Facebook tabs.

From that date your will need a SSL connection for your custom tab or people won’t see your content on your custom Facebook tabs.

What is a SSL certificate?

secure Facebook browsing with sslSSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer. Its a bit geeky but at its simplest it is a communications protocol that encrypts data travelling between two computers so that private information can not be intercepted, tampered or forged.

A SSL certificate is a data file that you host on your webserver which validates that your domain and your business name are who you say you are.

You most likely have used SSL certificates with your web browser without giving it much thought. Any time you have used internet banking or made an online purchase where the padlock symbol has appeared in the address bar then a SSL certificate has been in place.

The other obvious difference is that the address will start with https:// rather than http://. The ‘s’ indicates that the domain is ‘secure’.

You can read more technical details about SSL certificates at GlobalSign.

What is a Facebook Custom Tab?

These are extra tabs or applications that companies add to their Facebook page to increase the engagement options for fans. The most common use is to create a custom landing tab so that new visitors to the page arrive on a tab that welcomes them and prompts them to click ‘like’ rather than sending them direct to the page wall. This tabs greatly improve the conversion rate of visitors to fans.

If you have a social media strategy in place then these landing tabs should be part of it.

Other custom tabs could be competition related, an online shopping tab or setup to display content from a website for example.

Why is Facebook making this change?

Forcing the use of SSL and HTTPS makes Facebook a safer place for its users(which is most of us) which is a good thing. Users have had the option since Jan 2011 to use secure browsing within Facebook (Account > Account Settings > Security > Secure Browsing).

If you have had this setting enabled then you may have seen this image when visiting custom Facebook Tabs. This was because the content (images etc) to be displayed on that tab was being delivered from outside of Facebook and from a HTTP rather than a HTTPS address.

facebook SSL warning message

Clicking continue would still allow you to access the page content.

From 1 Oct 2011 you will no longer have the ability to choose ‘continue’. Facebook will simply not display the insecure content.

What can I do if I think I might be affected?

If you are using a 3rd party application then they *should* have taken steps to be compliant and you are unlikely to suffer an interruption.

If you engaged a Facebook Fan Page designer to make your custom pages then you should be following this up with them now and seeing what they have arranged.

Those folk who have taken the DIY approach are probably going to be the main group affected. You will need to see if your website host offers a shared SSL certificate, this should be free. Otherwise you’ll need to purchase a SSL certificate and install on the domain where you are hosting your custom tab content (images etc).

Redcliffe Marketing Labs can provide social media consulting services if you are having difficulty getting your Facebook tab content to show following the rollout.