That’s the million dollar question. No, wait, that’s the billion dollar question. According to several reports, by changing one simple setting Facebook completed altered the relevance of a budding industry: Facebook welcome page designers and developers.

When Facebook switched over to the Timeline format, Pages lost the ability to set their welcome page as the default landing page. With that option eliminated, as well as the removal of the option to set ANY tab as the default landing page (contests, videos, etc), Pages were limited to only directing people to their wall.

To be fair, you can direct anyone to your welcome page or contest page by simply clicking on that given tab and copying and pasting where you want it displayed. However, you cannot direct people to these pages by default like before. Furthermore, the new cover photo feature, has enhanced the importance of the wall, giving people a nice image to look at when they come to your Fan page.

While Fan Gates and reveal tabs are very popular because you force someone to “like” the page before they reveal the special offer. The problem is once someone already “likes” your page the value of that reveal offers goes away. Plus, a non-Fan who goes to your Fan page will likely click on your Facebook icon on your website, taking them to your wall and not your Fan Gate tab.

For people who already are Fans, it’s likely most of what they see from you will be messages in their news feed. Since you can “like,” comment on and share something directly from the news feed, people are less likely to go to your actual Fan page when they login to Facebook.

Now, there are a growing number of applications you can utilize on your Fan page. However, like your welcome page or reveal tab, you still have to get people to click on a little box on your Fan page just to get to the application. On top of that, many applications require you to opt-in to share your Facebook data with the app. I don’t have any details on the percentage of those that click away from these apps, but based on my conversations with frequent Facebook users, it’s high.

So does this mean that Facebook tabs, welcome pages, Fan Gates, etc. are a waste and don’t matter anymore? Absolutely not. However, you need to adjust your expectations about your Fan page. Having a welcome page won’t automatically lead to a lot of new Fans. Similarly, having a bunch of Facebook apps doesn’t mean a lot of your Fans are using them.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, focus on being social on Facebook. Leave comments, ask questions and give your practice an identity. Take into account all the foot traffic, website visitors, consultations and patients on your email marketing list, and sell the benefits of “liking” you on Facebook. Don’t just pay for fancy Fan Gate pages and other apps and expect everyone to go to them. Instead, build your presence on interaction, then worry about applications.