For my innaugural blog, I had thought about writing about taking a technical subject and trying to make it manageble for the non-technical, but I'll save that for another time. I think instead, I'd like to talk about Facebook Fanpages. What are they? And more importantly - How do you make them outstanding.
To those users who've been with Facebook for a while, a Facebook Fanpage may seem like a replacement for a Facebook Group; however, the distinction isn't so linear. Here's a nice chart that I found:
We can get into what the various rows stand for in more detail later; but the point is to see that a group doesn't have a smaller set of features than a page, but instead, they have commonalities and differences.
One of the biggest differences that I've been in love with lately is the "Support for Applications" - I'll get into this below.
The other difference between Groups and Pages is the strategy underlying how you will use these. We recommend to our clients to use a Facebook Group as a forum for discussing, organizing or giving feedback. The ability to mass messages to your membership is only available for groups, so, when you're organizing an event, the group is ideal. Facebook Fan Pages can also be used to promote events, but it's only a group which can have an event that allows mass messaging. A strong Facebook Group may be ideal for those who are hosting events regularly.
As a developer who is taken as a Facebook Expert, Our clients and friends often say things like this to me about their facebook development experience:
"I learned how to use them once, but now it's different, and I just don't have the energy to do it again"
"How does such and such do this and that with their Facebook Page"
There have been numerous seemingly fundemental changes to the Facebook page infrastructure making it quite difficult to keep up. The worst part about these changes is that your page might look great under one revision from facebook, but it may have overlapping text or mismanaged content in another revision. Here's an example:
This looks great right! When this page was first picked up and went viral on gizmodo, it was a heavily blogged about item. But what about now? If you take a look at Alexandre's current facebook page, it doesn't look nearly as impressive because facebook disturbed the order of the top photos of the page which form Alexandre's eyes. It's interesting that they changed this, and one has to wonder if it was on purpose or just part of facebook's design - that's another topic.
So, up until now, I've writen about a lot of complications regarding Facebook Pages; it's true that they're combersome; however, they're also one of the most valuable tools for talking about your organizations products and services.
Here's a couple of ways to use them effectively:
If you want to appear professional while also being social, you can become the identity of your facebook page. This means that when you post on someone's wall, the posting will be made by your organization with your oganization's profile picture. Since you can allow multiple members of your company to be administrators of a page, with this strategy, you can appear as once cohesive message rather than a collection of members. This is a distinct advantage of a page over a wall.
It's really exciting for me to create new Facebook Applications, and it's even more exciting when clients install these applications on their pages.
As a case study, we created a website http://canadatalentsearch.ca which allows visitors to vote (by using the facebook like button) on candidates for a crazy amount of prizes in a contest of personal branding. In order to make this campaign go viral, we decided to make a Facebook Application for this page.
With this application, the user can vote, leave comments, and support their friends to the top. Moreover, all of the sponsor’s of the event can install the application on their Facebook Page. It’s a great way to integrate a campaign into any collaboration.
As I was saying earlier, one thing to watch with the Facebook Fan Pages is that Facebook will change their standards, and your page could get messed up (just like with Alexandre above). Imagine Malaysia’s surprise after they spent $100,000 on 6 Facebook Fan pages only to have Facebook change the code and their money be worthless. At Stylelabs, we have a strategy around this. The old method of building a Facebook Fan Page with custom content was to use the FBML standard – I urge you, do not invest in this technology.
I just want to throw another thing in here before I give my pitch: Since Facebook has been under scrutiny from privacy watchdogs, they’ve started making an important option available. In your privacy settings, you can force Facebook to use an SSL (secure connection). The trick with this is that every piece of content sent over an secure connection must be secure as well – failure to do this sets of warning bells and scares away visitors. With Stylelab’s Facebook Fan Page technology, we have solved this issue without expecting you to buy an expensive SSL Certificate (about $150 per year extra).
It’s no surprise that I’m writing this blog because I’m really happy with Stylelabs’ Facebook Fanpage technology. It’s quite incredible how well we can make a page look. Here’s an example:
A few other sites to look at are: Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Red Bull Sports Drink, or American Express. At first these sites almost look as good as ours. When we first saw them, we were intimidated (through special industry knowledge, we knew how much some of these companies had paid). Once our lab brought out their web inspection tools, we saw that these sites were built on only images and didn’t use proper SEO building tools. The regular rules of SEO still apply to Facebook Fan Pages, and it appeared that these big players had forgotten the rules.
Not only do our sites look amazing, optimize better, and provide for collaboration with other partners, but they’re also affordable. Please contact us at email@example.com to find out how to get your Facebook Page taken to the next level.
Doug McLean is the Vice President of Research and Development at Stylelabs