How to Use Facebook Apps to Promote Your Business

social media toolsIs your Facebook Page working for your business?

Have you considered using Facebook apps, but don’t know where to start?

In this article I‘ll highlight some of the most popular uses of apps, as well as a few individual apps, so you can find the right fit for your Facebook Page.

What You Need to Know about Facebook Apps

Apps let you do all sorts of things on your Facebook Page without writing your own code.

You can import your blog, run contests and promotions, collect email sign-ups, sell product through ecommerce and provide customer support.

social media examiner page apps

Social Media Examiner utilizes a variety of apps on its Page.

At any one time, you can install up to 11 apps on your Page, but only four are visible in the thumbnail images directly beneath your cover photo.

While Photos always appears as the first app, you can choose which apps show in the remaining three spots. Any additional apps you install can be viewed by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the app images.

As the Page admin, you rearrange apps by clicking the down arrow to show all apps. Choose an app to move, and click on the Edit icon in the upper corner of the app thumbnail image to reveal the “Swap position with” option.

endeavor snowboard design of apps

Use admin tools to edit the ordering of apps on your Page.

Some users may not know how to reveal apps by clicking the arrow, so be sure to include your most important apps in the top row of visibility.

This is important to remember if you’re running a contest or other promotion on your Page, where you’ll want to highlight the specific app for a period of time, but give up that valuable real estate once the campaign ends.

Because apps receive less visibility in the current Facebook design than they used to, you can also use your cover photo to draw attention to them.

Recently Facebook relaxed the rules regarding cover photos, so you’re free to include calls to action and text to accentuate your apps. Just remember not to go overboard as people tend to respond better to a clean Page without too many sales-oriented messages.

inbound zombie app

You can use your cover photo to draw attention to an app.

Should You Care About Using a Facebook Preferred Developer?

The short answer is that for most everyday apps, this isn’t a concern.

However, when running promotions, contests or more unique marketing campaigns, it can be comforting knowing you’re working with a Preferred Marketing Developer. They ensure you’re complying with all of Facebook’s guidelines and getting the most out of the platform.

What About Requiring Users to Like My Page to View Apps?

Before the introduction of timeline if you utilized a default landing tab in conjunction with a “like gate” or “fan gate,” users couldn’t see any content on your Page until they clicked the Like button.

Now that users are able to view your entire timeline without first liking your Page, this has mitigated concerns about this practice.

Today, virtually all app providers allow you to implement the fan gate feature and it can be an effective tool to drive more likes. Just be sure you have a plan for how to engage new fans after they’ve liked your Page.

Stand-alone Apps vs. Suites

When it comes to utilizing apps, one of the first questions you’ll want to answer is whether you’re better off using a single-purpose app provider or signing up with a vendor that offers multiple app suites you may wish to use.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to get more out of your Facebook Page, then you need to provide more utility to your fans.

Since you’re probably going to want multiple tabs on your Page, I encourage you to look at the many companies that provide a suite of apps to determine what meets your needs and fits your budget.

sample of apps

A sample from the menu of apps offered in a suite.

With each app provider, there’s a learning curve for creating an app using their tools.

Some vendors provide templates with some degree of flexibility to customize the look and feel using HTML or CSS. Others have more of a drag-and-drop interface where you can add and edit “widgets” (e.g., a video player, a map) within the app.

Most vendors offer a free trial so you can play around with the interface to build and design your app before you commit. This lets you see which one works best for you.

How to Create General Content and HTML Tabs

Create your tabs yourself with HTML.

If you can write HTML, you can probably figure out how to create your own custom Facebook app. However, using an existing app takes the hassle out of creating a custom tab.

With HTML, you can do almost anything that you can do on your own website but have it live within a tab on your Facebook Page.

A popular free option you can use to create custom HTML tabs is Static HTML. In addition to the editable HTML iframe tab, they offer some additional options once you have installed their app on your Page.

Use tools to create tabs.

If you don’t want to dive into HTML, you can use tools to help you create your tabs. Here are some you might want to look at.

Pagemodo is another widely used tool for creating custom content tabs, offering a variety of templates and themes to choose from, as well as the ability to do some custom HTML/CSS editing. Their free plan enables you to launch one tab on one Page only, but they offer paid plans for multiple tabs.

North Social was one of the first vendors to offer a suite of apps for Facebook Pages, and includes a WYSIWYG iframe Editor that allows you to upload an image, URL or full HTML. North Social provides a nice selection of 18 apps to utilize for as little as $1.99 per day.

AgoraPulse is another vendor that offers an HTML app, as well as other content apps (and while you’re there, you should check out their free analytics tool).

Here are some other ways to use your Facebook tabs.

#1: Integrate Other Social Media Channels

Some people think of their various social channels separately, but your Facebook Page is the perfect hub to cross-promote content from your Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest feeds.

In addition to posting photos directly to your timeline, you can use a free app like Statigram to pull your Instagram photos into a Page tab.

example instragram feed app

Example of an Instagram feed app.

Tabfusion has a good selection of simple apps to pull in content from sources including Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Vimeo. Each app can be purchased à la carte or you can sign up to access all of them.

If Pinterest is your thing, Woobox offers a free app to pull in your Pinterest feed, as well as a Pin to Win contest app as part of their paid subscription plan.

#2: Publish Your Blog to Facebook

If you have a blog and you aren’t already reposting blog entries to your Facebook timeline, you should be!

Share new posts in the news feed and house an archive of your blog posts on your Page. Two popular tools for blogs to integrate with Facebook are NetworkedBlogs and RSS Graffiti.

app to bring content to facebook page

A popular app for bringing blog content to your Facebook Page.

#3: Run Contests and Promotions

Many articles have been written on the topic of Facebook contests because they remain one of the most popular and effective uses of apps on Facebook.

While a number of the vendors mentioned previously provide some sort of contest or sweepstakes application, three that I believe have the most robust capabilities in this area are:

  • Offerpop – Provides a variety of contest app types to choose from.
  • ShortStack – Delivers a rich set of tools for a very reasonable price.
  • Strutta– One of the most robust platforms for photo and video contests.

    like gate on contest app

    Speedway makes use of a like gate on their contest app.

#4: Add Email Subscribers

A fan is visiting your Facebook Page and she may or may not like your Page. If she does, she may be in the 12% who see your posts when you post to your timeline.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to communicate directly via email with the people who like your Page? MailChimp and Constant Contact each offer sign-up apps you can add to your Page.

You can also use a third-party app like TabSite, which offers an email sign-up app as part of their free package.

#5: Enable Ecommerce

If you sell products on your website, have you considered offering them through your Facebook Page, too?

Heyo (formerly Lujure) is an app platform with some nice templates that let you build out commerce-oriented tabs and add product links to drive purchases.

If you want a more deeply integrated shopping experience, check out Ecwid. And if you’re looking to build out your web storefront with Shopify, they offer the ability to easily integrate on Facebook as well.

#6: Offer Customer Support

Social media is one of the first places people turn today to vent frustrations with a brand or product. If you have an existing Get Satisfaction community, you can integrate it on your Facebook Page. Parature is a robust customer service application with strong integration with Facebook.

If these are out of your league, you can also use your app vendor of choice to create a feedback form to host on a tab. Just be sure you’re able to collect the information you need and respond to people appropriately.

Over to You

Well, there you have it. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I hope it’s been helpful. Check out these providers to see what best fits your business needs.

What do you think? Have you used other apps or suites you can recommend? What have you used apps for? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

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About the Author, Ben Pickering

Ben Pickering is a digital marketing executive who has worked with many of the world’s top brands. He has written and spoken extensively on the topic of social media marketing. You can follow Ben on Twitter @bpicks. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.blazewebstudio.co.za/ Geoffrey Gordon

    Nice Article Ben

    I have been using some of these already for some of my clients. You have added some more insight and ways to use Facebook apps.

    Great resource. :)

  • http://www.secretsauceonlinemedia.com/ Latisha Poulard

    Ben thanks for the post. I’ve used apps to direct people to my website, pinterest and twitter feeds. You have laid out some other applications I can use to increase my blog subscribers and use for my online marketing clients as well.

  • Stuart Isbister

    Good article although I understand some Facebook apps are not visible on mobile devices, which given that no-one has a PC anymore:) seems daft, but if true would make these recommendations useful but not necessarily profitable.

  • JB

    Great post!

  • Marcus

    Only just discovered your website, its absolutely fantastic, always try and make time to read your new stuff, cheers.

  • http://www.montinaportis.com/ Montina Portis

    Great post Ben! Thank you for introducing new ways to include Facebook apps to promote our business. I didn’t realize there was an option to provide Customer Support through the FB app tab. Thank you.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks Geoffrey!

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Great. Glad you found it helpful.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Stuart – You raise a good point. Unfortunately Page Tabs are not visible when you view a specific Facebook Page in the mobile environment. However, many of the vendors I mentioned have created mobile-friendly versions of their apps so that if a link to the tab directly is shared on a Timeline or in the News Feed it is still accessible when clicked. It’s definitely worth checking if the app you’re using will render on a mobile device.

  • Caze

    Thank! This is very helpful!

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Thanks for such a great resource, Ben! I think Facebook apps are sometimes quite underused by businesses. Now that the guidelines for cover photos have lessened and brands can use the space to point customers in towards the space where apps live, it is even more important to create purposeful and action-inducing apps that ask the customer to do something. One thing I’d add to this article is that it’s always important to stay focused and lean in the use of apps though, stick to a short list of goals for your Facebook page and utilize apps to accomplish those.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Sarah – I agree 100%!

  • Nathan Latka

    Great post here Ben! Thanks for sharing Heyo with your readers. Happy to chat with any of them as we focus on driving traffic, leads, and sales via Facebook and mobile campaigns/contests and commerce.

  • http://theclosetgeek.net/ Barry Ricks

    Thanks for the tips. I may need to start trying to use more Apps for my pages.

  • Karelisa Falkner

    What I have found most interesting in using these apps is their diminishing return every year. They represent about 1% or less of landing views (timeline, photo and video almost always account for the other 99%). In terms of promotions and contests, I’ve found that engagement is ok (for example, a fair amount will claim a coupon, but few visit the site to redeem). I’ve also tested Facebook ads targeted on apps and the performance across the board has been weak. Plus – as someone pointed out – they are not visible on mobile. If your social media manager has the time- sure…otherwise forget about ‘em!

  • socialsarah

    Good stuff! Does anyone have a recommendation for creating a LinkedIn tab? Would be great for my B2B clients…

  • http://www.AchieveTheGreenBeretWay.com/welcome Michael Martel

    Nice overall post. I took away some ideas to use on my pages.

    One thing I would advise against using is Networked Blogs. I just don’t see the same interaction with the blog snippets that it posts on the timeline that I get from a full photo with some descriptive comment with a link to the blog or landing page.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks for your comments. While the switch to Timeline and mobile usage certainly impacts the visibility of apps I think they still form an important part of a comprehensive Facebook strategy. That said, you definitely need to figure out what works for your page and audience and spend time where you are seeing the biggest return.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks for the comment. I know people who use Networked Blogs but also will support it by making original posts to the Timeline and as you said they do tend to see higher engagement on the native posts.

  • http://www.beasocialclimber.com/ Lisa Parkin

    Great and helpful article. I think businesses aren’t utilizing apps enough on Facebook. There’s so much you can do with them. Plus sites like ShortStack make it ever easier.

  • Ashleigh Verdier

    I’ve been using ShortStack to develop several apps for our company page. I’ve found that they have a good number of templates and a lot that you can do with them. Also, they are viewable on a mobile device and can publish to our timeline.

    We’re developing one tab as a resource for finding some of the different content we create based on your industry. This is especially helpful because we are a rather large company and it can be overwhelming to browse all of the content you can find on our website.

    The other app is being developed for recruiting purposes. We’ll post content about what it is like to work at our company including videos, photos, and blog posts and also include some job postings. I’m excited to see what kind of engagement we get from both apps.

  • Pagemodo

    Thank you for including Pagemodo on the list! We are honored.

    In addition to the option of creating HTML/CSS tabs mentioned above, we offer other awesome features that your readers might find useful. Using our tool you can create contents & sweepstakes, customize your cover photo, and find engaging posts to schedule to your fans on Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    You’re welcome. I think Pagemodo is a great tool. I couldn’t list out everyone’s entire product offering so I tried to highlight something from a variety of great vendors in the space.

  • Amanda

    Is there a way to add the blog website to a Facebook page as an application?

  • http://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/ Ryan Biddulph

    I love the idea of cross-integrating Ben. If you cross promote you can spread the word much more quickly than if you promoted through a single channel. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  • Lisa Harvey

    Great article. I have used a few apps, Woobox – competitions and Pinterest. This is a helpful insight to utilise more with confidence. Thanks for the recommendations.

  • http://www.TopSpotsMarketing.com/ Louis Foussard

    Useful information. Thanks.

    It helped to remind me of a few things I’ve been meaning to do. Thanks for keeping me focused.

    ~ Louie

  • Chad

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely look at using FB apps for my business.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Ben, great stuff! I’ve been working on my Facebook marketing, and you’ve provided some really great tips and insights here. Thank you!

  • http://www.softship.com/ Ava Cristi

    Thanks for sharing these tips Ben! I think I need to be more serious in using the facebook Apps in promoting my business. I will use this article as my guide.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ SKI USA

    We have had Facebook Apps implemented for our Facebook page but as of now haven’t made good use of it. This post has given a lot more ideas to get started with.

    Thanks Ben for sharing this. Time to get started now :)

  • Not for pixies

    Great post! Installed Woobox apps to create custome tabs on a page recently which were really easy to use and are working well. Next stop – housing a blog archive on my page – thanks for the tips!

  • Pagemodo

    Thank you Ben :)

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Absolutely!

  • http://www.seomasterexpert.com/ Swapan Kumar

    Wow !! Amazing Post. I was looking for the complete Facebook add procedure from a long time. Thanks for step by step procedure to use Facebook apps. Look forward to see some more amazing posts from your end. Thanks you once again for sharing.

  • Pingback: How to Use Facebook Apps to Promote Your Business | Internet Billboards

  • Harry L. Parson III

    What is the best App for Facebook for someone running for a political office?

  • Pingback: Facebook marketing weekly review (August 16th)

  • Zoe

    Ben, do you know when Facebook apps are going to be viewable on mobile? As currently this is a big downside to Facebook apps.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Zoe – I don’t know that Facebook has any plans to make Page Apps (i.e., the tabs linking to the apps) viewable when visiting a page on mobile. Many app vendors do have mobile-ready apps so that if a link is shared and someone clicks from a mobile device then they can access the app. So if you want to promote an app you should post a link to it on your timeline. I know it’s not ideal but a lot of people have pushed this point and it isn’t a high priority for Facebook.

  • http://www.ehvconsultant.com/ EHV Consultants Erica HVincent

    My FB fan page has sort of been my “problem child” because I neglected and to figure this out! Thank you for this easy to follow resource article!

  • http://thegogreenscene.com/ Jeff Hopkins

    A terrific article and I am going to be utilizing the things I learned. My FB page is about to get a Facelift (Pun Intended) – Jeff @TheGreenTreat

  • Guest

    Insightful article on Facbook Apps! I had the urge to see you put it practice when I came across the first screenshot of your page, but I find no link to profile readily available. I see plenty of links to share your post through other media outlets, but I cannot immediately access your profile from the article. Kind of a bummer.

  • http://bastadediscriminar.com Majo Paskuvan

    Thanks for the post ! I used some apps to direct my page

  • Ashley

    Great article. It has been tough to find the PERFECT sweepstakes/promo app for Facebook. So far it looks like the top choices are ShortStack and Woobox. Have you had any interaction or use with Woobox? If we are looking for a very basic and limited promo app, the going rate seems to be about $15/mo, right? I am not seeing many choice “free” apps…

  • http://www.AchieveTheGreenBeretWay.com/welcome Michael Martel

    I like ViralSweep. I think it is about $49 a month. It is full featured with Aweber integration.

  • Craig Simonson

    Thank you Ben, as a small business owner this is a wealth of information!







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