social media how toAre you looking for easy ways to engage new Facebook fans using Timeline?

Keep reading to learn how free apps can provide enormous opportunities for your business.

Why Facebook Timeline Apps?

Now that the new Timeline layout is mandatory for all page owners, we’re all beginning to find our way around the new layout.

For many, especially those who just started seeing traction with the old layout, Timeline presents brand-new challenges (and opportunities!) for staying top-of-mind.

Sure, the layout is beautiful, with lots of room for high-res video and photo. But with all the rules and changes (e.g., that your cover photo can’t be promotional, or that there’s no more driving non-fans to a default “welcome” tab prompting them to Like your page), page admins have their work cut out for them in terms of fostering high engagement and moving their fans to take action. Without engagement and momentum, your page is as good as invisible.

Since page admins can no longer designate a default landing tab (also referred to as the “default welcome tab”), businesses need to get more creative and use custom apps to direct Facebook page visitors to take action. Instead of having apps on the left-hand side of your page, they’re now featured directly below the cover photo.

One way to make up for the loss of engagement with a default landing tab is to drive visitors to your custom apps instead. Custom apps are prime real estate when optimized.

To get the most out of this real estate, you need to create a custom app strategy for your page.

Here’s a simple 3-step action plan to help you get momentum quickly with your new Timeline layout:

  • Define your custom app strategy.
  • Use a third-party tool.
  • Promote and drive traffic to your custom app.

#1: Define Your Custom App Strategy

Before you start creating custom apps for your page, you want to be clear on your overall app strategy. Define what outcome you want to get from the app.

Do you want to create lead generation opportunities? Or create a welcome page? Or perhaps you want to turn your app into a mini-storefront? There are endless strategies for your custom apps.

Here are a few examples:

Social Media Examiner has created multiple custom apps to move their fans to action. As you can see from the image below, they use their custom apps to provide valuable content, collect leads and introduce their new Networking Clubs.

networking clubs apps

Social Media Examiner uses custom apps to provide valuable content, collect leads and introduce their new Networking Clubs.

When you click on “Networking Clubs” you’ll be taken to a custom app that incorporates video to explain the Clubs. Video within custom apps is a smart strategy to connect with your fans on a more personal level.

welcome page with video

When you add video to your custom apps, you're able to connect with your Facebook fans at a deeper level.

Another custom app strategy is to use them to display your best content. I’ve done that here by pulling in one of my most popular blog posts. If you click on the custom app “Click 4 Tips,” you’ll see my latest blog post inside my Facebook page.

blog custom app

The more value you can create on your Facebook page, the greater your overall fan engagement. Use custom apps to highlight your best content.

blog app

With the help of the tool Lujure, I added one of my most popular blog posts to a custom app inside of Facebook.

The cool thing about pulling in my blog post is that all of the share buttons work—meaning I can get even more exposure via clicks inside Facebook. Also, at the end of my blog post, I’ve included an opt-in opportunity. Therefore, not only am I providing great content, I am also growing my email list.

Another useful strategy for custom apps is to create an e-commerce opportunity. As you can see from the example below, Christie LaPiana has pulled her website directly into her Facebook page. Now anyone can click on a product and purchase it without ever leaving Facebook.

facebook page ecommerce portal

Christie LaPiana uses her Facebook page as an e-commerce portal, selling her products directly from her custom app.

ecommerce facebook page

This e-commerce site is inside Christie's Facebook page, creating a new opportunity for her to sell her products.

#2: Use a Third-Party Tool to Create Your Custom App

By now you might be thinking, “So how do I create these custom apps?”

The good news is that you have many third-party tool options. Some options are free, others charge a fee.

For some of my custom apps, I’ve used Lujure. It’s a drag-and-drop operation, making it very easy to use, even when you are a bit technically challenged! Check out my short video to see how easy it is to set up a custom app in just minutes.

#3: Promote and Drive Traffic to Your Custom App

One of the biggest challenges you will face once you create your custom app is driving traffic to it.

To grab your fans’ attention, make sure to use strong calls to action in both the custom app name and the app thumbnail image. The thumbnail image specs are 111 x 74 pixels.

Quick Tip! Here’s a free tool that will help you create your custom app thumbnails without ever having to hire a designer.

apps example

By adding thumbnails and action phrases to your custom apps, you can dramatically increase fan engagement.

In the example above, I called one app “Sign Up,” one “Watch,” one “Enroll Now” and then included more actionable text (“Social Media Updates,” “Free Video Series,” etc.) in the app thumbnail itself.

Calls to action that provide a clear incentive—valuable knowledge, industry tips and entertainment value—are likely to get more clicks.

To upload a thumbnail or change the name of the app, follow these steps:

  • First, collapse all of your apps by using the drop-down arrow to the right of the apps.
  • Next, put your cursor in the right corner of any app and you will see an edit pencil icon.
  • Click the edit pencil and you will see a drop-down.
  • Click “Edit Settings” in the drop-down and you will see an option to change “Custom Tab Image” (a.k.a. the thumbnail image) and the app name.
    edit settings

    Choose "Edit Settings" in the drop-down menu.

    rename your app

    Rename your app with a call to action.

As you can see, there are a lot of different custom app strategies you can try out for your own Facebook page. The key to success is to create apps that will get your fans engaged and move them to take action.

Now it’s your turn!

What do you think? Have you used custom apps to create engagement and drive your fans to action? Share your custom app strategy in the comments box below.

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  • Hi Amy,  this is very cool.  Until I read your post, I thought of FB apps as a real pain that people use to flood my timeline with requests for. 

    You showed me that apps can be used for promotion and that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have one developed!  

    thanks Amy – this is cool information.  

  • Great information here! Thank you for sharing the thumbnail picture tool–I was in need of this yesterday! One site I found to be useful to create my app was Very easy to use. 

  • Great article @amyporterfield:twitter Obviously we’d recommend our third party app as well! Love the use of text in the thumbnails to get the call to action.

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  • Hi Amy, fantastic post!
    Another great Facebook app provider is CrowdFactory. (a Marketo company) They have an entire suite of Facebook apps specifically designed to engage for business. 

    Your points on call to action and a custom thumbnail are right on as well. At Marketo we use custom Facebook apps for lead generation by custom building the landing page form directly into the FB app and syncing the data into our database automatically. The names are then scored and the nurturing process begins. 

    In addition to your tips on promoting and driving traffic, I would recommend setting aside a small budget for Facebook ads or a sponsored story to support. Doing so could really give it a set of viral legs and amplify the exposure dramatically. 


  • Thank you for sharing, Amy! I have been wondering how to integrate apps and other pages in FB since the switch to Timeline and this was very helpful.

    Thank you!

    Branded Business Apps

  • Chickp

    Amy: Great info! Thanks so much. I am a fan of “calls to action,” and agree with you about their use on FB.

  • Great post, Amy! Your video to use the Lujure tool is very well done!! 

  • thewinebuff

    Good post Amy, but can I just check one thing – to see Apps, so people necessarily have to be on your timeline? Is there a way to link them stright in from their wall to your App? Like a short cut to avoid directing to the timeline then the App? ie too many steps. Maybe I’m understanding this wrong?

  • I still see the generic Facebook icon images on some brand pages and instantly cringe. Will be sharing this article with more people to show how easy it is to edit!

  • Cindy Spencer

    Quick question… if you wanted to show a specific page of your website via an app on your timeline, is that possible?

  •  Each app has its’ own unique URL.  Just click on the app’s thumbnail and look in the URL bar of your browser.  You can post that link to direct people to the app.

    In some cases, the 3rd party app provider may actually provide a special URL you can use to promote your app.  For example, I like to use ShortStack, and they provide a special URL to promote so people using mobile can see your app without any problem.

  • Just customized my apps yesterday! It’s so easy to do. Great article, I’ll be looking into an ecommerce app for some of my clients.

  • madeline gutierrez

    Pretty darned handy – I knew this “could be done.”  I’ve been poking around Facebook to see what the “Big Boys” (and Gals) were doing.

    But you just made the “how to” for my first time at it seem pretty easey – peasy.

    I’ll be recommending your article in my own blog.

    And of course – checking out your Facebook page as well!  🙂


  • thewinebuff

    Thanks Michael. You’re a star

  •  Happy to help 🙂

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  • Great information!  Thank you!

  • Excellent Article!!

    Its good to see that Im already doing things the right way!

    How do you get the red stars and other icons next to the text links under the App ‘Tab Image’?

  • Nice post, thank you for walking us through the details as well as the ideas. I love these kind of very applicable posts that one can implement and share with others.

  • Thanks so much for this post, Amy! I put it to use in a class I’m taking on MediaBistro. You need to be teaching for them!


  • Sarah Bauer

    Hi Amy!
    I didn’t realize it was so simple to set up an e-commerce app for Facebook pages. Our clients often strive to bring their users as close to the website experience as possible with their social media pages, and bringing fast-and-easy e-commerce into the picture is definitely a priority! 
    Thanks again,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Fabulous!  Now I understand – I thought I’d have to pay some guru to write a FB app, but I can do it myself!  Thanks so much.

  • Cjcherryh

    I just tried to add a tab to my facebook business page that linked to the blog page.  Thanks for this great article.  One question- the convert to timeline- I see the button on your video but it was not available to me- is this not available in the free version of Lujure?  Thanks again!

  • You make our life easier, great!

  • Hi, Amy:

    How were you able to add the blog post noted above in your Facebook page? I too have a big and popular post which I would like to “embed” in my FB page. Which app within Lujure did you use for this.

    Please advise.


  • Never mind, Amy. Just took a look at your video above and there lies the answer to my question.

    Thanks, and great video.

  • Lomberto

    Amy, Thank you for that great video on how to set up the Facebook apps. Using Lujure is a breeze. The ony thing I did not see in the video and have not been able to figure out is how to replace the Lujure logo with my own image. Can you help? Thanks

  • Thanks for the update! Very timely and helpful now that a lot of the old tools are obsolete.

  • Lomberto

    Sorry, I just saw it under # 3 above…I tried it an it works.

  • Great tips as always. I have a question — What apps do you think should be the first thing that your fans see?   Or does it depend on your strategy?

  • You mean you wan’t to display only one page and not whole site?

  • thanks amy, yes facebook apps can score good to earn huge engagement from the users!

  • Lujure is a cool application. It really is simple because of the “drag-and-drop” feature. Thanks Amy!

  • REALLY USEFUL !!! Thank you for the post. I have heard about this possibility, but had not idea where to start. Your post brings new and endless possibilities. Thank you

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this article Amy. Most businesses we work with tend to only think about messaging and overlook the opportunities available to them with Promotions and other interactions via Timeline Apps.  This article was well written and will be shared with our social media marketing clients! Excellent work. 

  • Dominique B.


    Great information. I’m definitely going to try some of your suggestions.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • @amyporterfield , Great article.  We are definitely going to implement some of these tips.  Thank you!

  • That makes my day!  So glad to hear it 🙂

  • Ha!  Your app is fabulous too!  (

  • I am so glad you mentioned FB ads – I think they are crucial to this strategy because traffic is not always organic to the apps.  I wanted to include that in here, but the article was already way too long 🙂  Thanks for mentioning that important strategy, Jason!

  • Thanks for helping out here, Michael!

  • I do too, Shana!  🙂

  • It is possible, Cindy – but to make it fit perfectly, that web page you want to display needs to be no wider than 810 pixels wide.  That is the total width of a FB custom app.  Hope that helps!

  • Ha!  Glad you put it to good use, Michele!  🙂

  • I think Lujure just took it out and made all the pages 810 pixels wide, so they upgraded the app.  So you can ignore that step!

  • That’s what I like to hear, Wilson!

  • Hi, Missy.  Did you watch the video?  I take you step by step to show you how I did it!

  • just saw this!  Ignore my post above!

  • Where do you see the Lujure logo?

  • Oh, great to hear!

  • Hi, Nica. It does depend on your strategy, however I think for most businesses, I would suggest a value-add free giveaway in exchange for name/email – so a lead opportunity. And if you have a program or service that needs a little explanation, I would also include an app to help people understand how they can do business with you.  When people come to your Facebook Page, you want to make sure your page answers these 3 questions instantly:

    1) Who you are/what you are about?
    2) What value are you offering to your fans?
    3) How can someone do business with you if they wanted to pull out their wallet right now?

    Make sure your page is ready for action 🙂

  • In addition to using Lujure, I also had some of my apps created by Custom Fan Page Designs (.com) and they created those stars specifically for my app – so they were custom.  I wish you could do that with the DIY tools, but it’s not always an option.

  • Karen

    Thanks to you both for sharing. After many hours trying to find a decent tutorial for how to do this, yours was truly sunshine in what was becoming a dark afternoon! Our first app is up and running 🙂

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  • Annabelle Drumm

    Great post Amy. I tried Lujure. You’re right it’s really easy but I have to say it’s damn expensive. I would expected to pay say $1-200 as a one off fee but $30 a month is more what I’d pay for something I’m using every day. Do you have any other recommended programs/sites to do that job?

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  • Michael Hence

    I use It’s easy to use and is only a 1 time fee. Hope this helps 🙂

  • Hi Amy. Great post. Particularly how you stressed being clear on your goals. Got around to checking out Lujure and love it but when I don’t need to get so complicated what’s the custom app you used to create your more basic pages? Thanks heaps

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  • Monica

    Great post – just discovered it – thank you. Can I just ask – is the free version of Lujure all you need for one app?
     And is it okay to make this app a ‘buy the book’ app – or should it be a more subtle call to action and then when customers click the app they are then taken to the website with the buy now button.
    I am new to facebook apps etc..- appreciate any answers. Thanks Amy. Wonderful info…..

  • Hi Amy…just saw this post and had a question about adding in a iFrame with a link to your website…do you know if views through the app will be counted in your Google Analytics for that site?
    Thanks for your help!


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  • Ana

    I want to be able to give free photoshop templates to my fans but the “publish to fan page” application is disabled (I see other people that offer free stuff use that application). Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

  • Writerjenn

    How did Christie pull her website into the tab? Did she have to use 3rd party software? I tried to do it with Lujure but it was complicated…

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  • leslie arnelle

    thanks you so very much!

  • Great information…. Thank you for recommending the TimelineImageTool. Really, it is helpful and make changing tag image easy.

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  • Suzanne Delzio

    Great questions. You just saved me another 10 hours of hair pulling research!

  • Ryan

    Amy, We are interested in building a Facebook app for people to list their home for sale on our website (real estate). The real estate sections on Facebook are our target. My questions are:

    > How do we build the App? How do we make people use it on Facebook?
    > How do we create a back-links for Google each time someone lists a home on our website?
    > How do we create a “Like” each time someone lists a home?

    Greatly appreciate it . Thanks