How to Use Facebook Apps to Improve Fan Engagement : Social Media Examiner

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 Insane Inflatable 5k 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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