By Cameron Chapman
Facebook now has over 800 million active users around the world. If it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world (right behind China and India), and more than twice the size of the United States.
So it’s pretty much vital for anyone trying to promote a product, service, event, or cause to create a Facebook page. While other social networks (Google+ among them) are making gains, Facebook is still the largest and most popular out there, and that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future (and besides, Google+ doesn’t even allow brand pages yet).
One of the biggest mistakes brands make when creating Facebook pages is to just use the default tabs and default content. They post nothing but self-promotional updates and have no realy ways of interacting with their fans. Basically, their pages are boring.
The answer to this common problem is to make use of all the custom content applications and tabs available for Facebook pages. You can add custom welcome tabs, video tabs, feed your blog or other RSS feed into your news feed, import your tweets, and a lot more. Finding the apps to do all this, though, is a bit trickier.
In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best apps for Facebook pages and how to best use them. While it would be impossible to cover every app available (there are thousands that can be used on pages), this post will get you started.
Creating completely custom tabs is the bread-and-butter of Facebook Pages. These apps make it easy to create completely custom tabs for just about anything.
First Impression is North Social’s landing page app. The CMS built into the app makes it easy to create, edit, and update the page. It also includes the ability to customize the image and message that get posted when someone shares you page. Pricing for North Social apps is based on the number of fans you have (less than 1,000 fans is only $19.99 per month) and all accounts come with a 14 day free trial.
Welcome Tab is Involver’s landing page app. It makes it simple to create a custom branded splash page for your FB Page that invites visitors to become fans.
TabMaker is a free tool for creating custom tabs for your Page. You can create pages in a WYSIWYG editor, making it accessible for non-tech-savvy users. There are additional apps you can add to your tabs, both free and paid.
Social Candy offers content management and marketing tools for creating and managing professional, customized Facebook Pages, with no technical skills required. Subscriptions start at $29.99 per month, though you can try Social Candy for free.
ShortStack lets you create a number of specialized tabs for your Page, including fan-only content, sweepstakes and contests, custom contact forms, and more. They offer a number of widgets for adding functionality to your pages, including Flickr, images, voting, polls, virtual gifts, countdowns, iFrames, videos, and more. Their free account can handle Pages with up to 2,000 fans, and paid plans start at $15 per month.
TabSite is a fan page platform that lets you easily customize your Facebook page. It uses widgets to let you customize the content that appears on your custom tabs. Widgets available include everything from images and text content to YouTube channels, RSS feeds, and contact forms. They offer a free plan with up to 2 tabs per fan page, advertising in the footer, and a limited number of widgets. Paid subscriptions start at $5 per month, and there’s also a full white label option available.
Lujure Social Suite
The Lujure Social Suite offers a number of widgets and apps for customizing your fan page, including iFrames, YouTube, PayPal, Google Maps, Countdowns, Twitter, Live Chat, Tumblr, Real Estate, Skype, Vimeo, and more. Their free plan allows one tab and access to all the applications. Paid plans start at $30 per month and include all the applications, plus an unlimited number of pages and tabs.
Fan Page Engine
Fan Page Engine makes it really simple and easy to design your own custom tabs. They have a drag and drop interface for creating pages, offer “reveal” tabs (fan gates) to increase likes to your page, and they have help videos to guide you in creating your own tabs. Their Basic subscription starts at just $4.97 per month.
Video Players and Tabs
There are a ton of video players and tabs for Facebook pages out there, so we’ll only cover a few of them. If the ones below don’t do what you need, you can rest assured that there probably is an app out there somewhere that does, you’ll just have to do a bit more research.
The YouTube Tab, from TabFusion, lets you easily add a YouTube tab to your fan pages. While it’s not free, pricing is a reasonable $10 per year. It’s a very versatile tab that can be easily customized to fit your needs, and is already used by a number of high-profile brands, including DC Shoes, Nissan Japan, and Peugeot.
Video Channel from North Social lets you add and organize YouTube video content directly. You can customize the tab header, add a fan gate so visitors have to like your page prior to watching video content, commenting is optional on videos, and there’s management options for sharing. It requires a North Social subscription, which starts at $19.99 per month.
Video Premiere is another video tab app from North Social that is focused on showcasing the release of new video by displaying a single large format YouTube video on your page. It includes fan gate functionality, a customizable header, sharing management, and optional on-page comments. It requires a North Social subscription, which starts at $19.99 per month.
Best YouTube Channel for Pages
Best YouTube Channel for Pages lets you display playlists or your channel and will show up to fifty of your most recent videos. The app is reasonably priced at $9.99.
Hubnut is a widget directly from Vimeo. Just create your Hubnut with your Vimeo videos and then paste the code it gives you into any custom tab that allows HTML.
Blip.tv Tab is another app from TabFusion. This one lets you includes your Blip.tv videos on your Facebook Page. The background image and text colors can be customized, and the app is only $10 for the year.
Vimeo Tab is also from TabFusion. It only works with Vimeo Plus accounts, and includes all your videos and channels. The background and text colors of the app are customizable. Vimeo Tab is $10 for the year.
Running a contest on your FB page can greatly increase the number of fans you have if you run the contest well and get the word out. There are a number of apps that can help you run a contest or sweepstakes. It’s important to be very careful when running a Facebook promotion or contest, as it’s vital that you adhere to Facebook’s rules, or risk having your page deleted without warning. This is why using a third-party application can be a good idea, as they make sure everything is set up according to Facebook’s rules.
Votigo offers a number of contest and promotion apps for your page, including photo and video contests, and a viral sweepstakes app. Both apps are still in beta, and are currently very inexpensive, at only a couple of cents per month.
ContextOptional offers a Contest app for adding a contest to your page. You can add photo contests, video contests, and essay contests (or a combination of the three) to your page, with the ability for fans to upload their own content and where fans can vote on entries.
ContextOptional also offers a Sweepstakes app, which gives you complete control over the design of your sweepstakes tab. You can gate entries with a requirement to like the brand page or provide an email address or mobile phone number. You can also control the number of entries per fan, and collect custom information from each entrant.
North Social Sweepstakes
The North Social Sweepstakes app lets you launch a sweepstakes in minutes on your FB page. It supports fan gates, includes tools for building your subscriber lists, and lets you embed a simple, customizable info-capture form. A North Social subscription is required.
Momentus Media Contest
The Momentus Media Contest app lets you create video, photo, and text-based contests, with winners decided by a judging process that you define.
Sweepstakes & Contests
Sweepstakes & Contests from Friend2Friend makes it easy to set up a sweepstakes or contest tab, including a form for collecting data, photo uploads, and more. Fan gates are also supported, as are newsfeed Share options to help word spread about your page.
Strutta Contests lets you create photo, video, audio, or text-based contests quickly and easily. Users can comment and vote on entries, share the contests through Facebook and Twitter, and four conest configurations are supported: public vote, judges pick, public vote for finalists with final winner picked by judges, or judges pick finalists and public votes on the winner.
Blog, RSS Feeds, and Other Imports
Feeding your blog or other RSS feeds directly into your FB page is a great idea. It means your page regularly has new content added, and also drives more traffic to your blog. You can also import your Twitter or other social network feeds directly into your Facebook page, which can greatly simplify keeping your page up-to-date. Some apps let you import the feeds directly to your newsfeed while others give you the option to just have it import to a tab.
Blog Tab, a free app from TabFusion, lets you include your favorite blog within a tab on your page. You just provide the RSS or XML feed and Blog Tab does the rest.
The Google+ Tab, free from TabFusion, lets you import your Google+ stream as a tab within your Facebook page.
Tumblr Tab, from TabFusion, lets you include your Tumblr blog as a tab within your Facebook page. The app is $10 per year.
Selective Tweets lets you update your Facebook status from Twitter, just by appending the #fb hashtag to the tweets you want to post. This way you’re not cluttering up your Page’s feed with tweets that may or may not be relevant.
North Social Twitter Feed
North Social’s Twitter Feed app makes it easy to import your Twitter feed into your fan page. It includes a customizable header, easy design interface, and management for sharing options.
Involver’s Twitter app syndicates your Twitter feed directly to your Facebook Page’s newsfeed. It requires a free Basic Involver subscription.
RSS Graffiti syndicates RSS feeds to your Facebook wall. It can support multiple feeds and multiple walls, you choose the combination.
Involver RSS Feed
Involver’s RSS Feed app lets you syndicate your blog to the news tab on your Facebook page and automatically pushes updates to your fans’ news feeds. It’s included with a free Basic Involver subscription.
North Social RSS Feed
North Social’s RSS Feed app supports fan gates, have a customizable header, and includes the ability to customize the image and messaging when content is shared by your users. It requires a North Social subscription, starting at $19.99 per month.
The addition of ecommerce tabs to Facebook is relatively new. Until recently, the only way to sell things through Facebook was to redirect users to a different site to make purchases. Now, there are a number of apps that let you sell directly through Facebook (and, in some cases, other social media sites).
Owjo lets you manage multiple storefronts on different social networks through a single interface. It even lets you host your store on other people’s websites by offering a cut of revenue. It’s easy to customize the look and feel of your site, has a completely secure payment platform, and even lets you create product bundles. It’s free to open an Owjo store, there’s no contract, and you only pay once you start making sales (you pay 7% of each sale plus normal credit card processing fees).
BigCommerce lets you sell on a variety of platforms, including Facebook through their SocialShop2 app. You get a complete store on Facebook with point and click installation, a customizable display banner, real-time product search, and complete orders and returns right from Facebook. SocialShop2 is included free on all BigCommerce plans.
LunarStore, from LunarMods, is a freemium ecommerce app for Facebook that offers payment through PayPal or Amazon checkout and can be set up in as little as 15 minutes. There’s a free plan that has a 5% transaction fee but no monthly fee and allows for up to 50 products. Their paid plans allow for more items (and multiple photos for each item) and start at $19.95/month.
ShopTab is a Facebook app that includes inventory management, support for multiple languages and currencies, and FB share integration. Plans start at $10/month for up to 500 products. All the plans come with 24/7 support and a free 7-day trial.
Ecwid is an ecommerce widget provider that lets you easily set up a Facebook store in minutes. Ecwid can be integrated with virtually any site, including most common CMSs and even sites designed with programs like iWeb. In addition to integrating with Facebook, it also works with MySpace, Blogger, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Ning, and many more. You can use it with a variety of payment methods, including PayPal and Google Checkout, too. There are both free and paid plans with Ecwid, with the main difference being the number of products you can have (the free plan allows up to 100, while the paid plan allows up to 20,000).
Payvment lets you set up a Facebook store for free. There’s a free version and two paid plans (starting at $29.95/month), with slightly different features for each. The main advantages paid plans have are that they automate promotion to fans and offer full analytics. All the plans allow for CSV catalog importing, social sharing through Facebook, Twitter, and email, setting of “featured” items, automated inventory control, and much more.
VendorShop is a free social shopping Facebook app with a number of useful features. You can have fan-only discounts to entice people to like you page, and shoppers don’t have to enable any apps to purchase from you. There are no subscription or transaction fees beyond standard PayPal fees to process your transaction.
Newsletter Signup Forms
It’s pretty important for brands to capture information about their fans outside of just Facebook. What happens if Facebook suddenly deletes your page or bans you? You will have lost the contact information of everyone who was a fan. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it easy for your fans to sign up for your newsletter from your page, and to encourage them to do so (exclusive newsletter-only offers are a great way to do just that).
MailChimp offers integration with Facebook in the form of a signup tab, embedding a signup form right on your Page.
Constant Contact Labs – Join My Mailing List
Constant Contact offers Join My Mailing List for setting up a subscribe form on your Facebook Page.
Other Interesting Apps
Depending on the type of page you’re creating, you might be interested in some of the following apps:
If you sell on Etsy, then the My Etsy app lets you add your Etsy store and/or favorites to your Facebook Page, with share functionality for each item. It also automatically posts to your news feed if one of your items is featured on the Etsy home page.
Genbook is scheduling software that can be integrated with Facebook to let people schedule appointments right from your FB page. It’s a great option for appointment-based businesses like salons, chiropractors, counselors, tattoo parlors, and more. A Genbook account is required to use BookNow.
Schedulicity is another appointment and scheduling app that lets you connect with existing clients and lets them book appointments directly from Facebook.
PageLever is an analytics suite for your Facebook pages. You can measure things like fan growth, mobile fans, comments, and likes, and lets you know which of your posts have performed best. There’s a free trial available, and after that plans start at $34 per month.
FAQ Page makes it simple to create a F.A.Q. tab on your fan page. Enter questions and answers and it will automatically format them with a list of questions and accordian-format answers.
Poll lets you create quick polls for your pages. It’s easy to use and effective at collecting user consensus and data. Photos, videos, and links can also be added into polls, making it more versatile.
There are thousands of apps you can use on your Facebook pages, to do just about anything you want. With new support for iFrames, you can even embed entire web pages into your Facebook Pages, with little work other than setting up the initial page. Apps make it easier for non-tech-savvy users to create custom pages, though, and aren’t going anywhere in the immediate future.