Not even a year ago, Facebook was still being dismissed as a silly site intended to help college kids slack off. Indeed, that is what helped the social network take hold with a large number of users, but it has proven its worth in business and by now, nearly everyone is on board. Companies of all sizes are scrambling to get on the site and reach both new and current customers with a Facebook Page, the Facebook preferred method for user interaction with a brand, company or public figure.
An effective Facebook Page not only attracts fans, but is sticky so that fans keep coming back and may even share the content on the Page. To do that, you need a well thought out Page that has some great applications supported by good, relevant content. Here are eight essential apps for your brand’s Facebook page:
1. Facebook Notes
This app was originally a Facebook feature that they then converted into an application; as such, it is sponsored and maintained by Facebook and less likely to break or be abandoned. Set this application up to pull in the RSS feed from your blog or other content source and it will automatically bring everything into Facebook and show all of your friends that you’ve posted a new Note.
This notification system is important for staying on their radar and is more visible than an RSS Reader, or mini-blog as I like to call it, but lacks many formatting capabilities; it’s best to think of Notes and an RSS Reader as working hand in hand. Start here to get content coming into your Page, then move on to the RSS Reader.
2. Blog RSS Feed Reader
I may have jumped ahead a bit with the Notes recommendation, but I am assuming that most companies have, or could have, a blog. If you don’t, work on that before Facebook, for many more reasons than I could get into here. But if you already have a blog, good news: there are tons of blog and RSS apps out there, but I’ve done the leg work and I found this one offered more functionality, better customization (you can pick an image to make your Facebook mini-blog look more like your actual blog) and a greater sense of control. It can be a bit buggy, but it’s worth persisting for the level of customization, and therefore attention grabbing potential.
3. Twitter App
Again, this assumes that you have a Twitter account, but if you’re reading this and working on a Facebook Page, my guess is you do. Or you at least know you should have one. If not, set one up before adding this application to your new Facebook Page. This will automatically pull your tweets into your Facebook status, and it puts a cute little Twitter-themed box on your profile, so everyone knows you’re cool enough to be on Twitter. It also saves you time in updating AND ensures profile activity to keep you relevant.
4. Static FBML
Neither Facebook Pages nor Profiles allow any type of HTML in the main content section, but you can add FBML and HTML applications to add more stylized elements to a Page, like clickable images, anchor text and interactive content. The Static FBML app allows you to add advanced functionality to a page by placing a customizable box in which you can render HTML or FBML (Facebook Markup Language), giving you free reign over the space to add images, video, stylized text and almost whatever else you want. This app was developed by Facebook, so it’s fully supported and not prone to the problems of some third party applications.
5. Extended Info
In the Extended Info box you can use HTML to customize any kind of content and create numerous fields beyond the standard Information categories; you can also name the box anything you want so it matches your page perfectly. This app works much like the Static FBML application but is slightly easier to use. Although not developed by Facebook, it is highly ranked and provides a nice alternative or second customizable box option on a page.
6. Flash Player
This Flash application, also developed by Facebook, will add a box to your Page in which you can upload your own Flash files to achieve advanced customization and play any kind of Flash video, widget or game. It can be renamed to maintain the integrity of the page and keep the look and feel consistent with your brand.
7. Posted Items Pro
With Posted Items Pro you can embed multiple YouTube, Yahoo, and Google Videos, music mp3s, sites, files, and more onto your profile and Facebook pages. You can add any variety of these elements, making it great for a media center or press section.
8. Something Unique
If you have the resources, add some personality to your profile with a fun, irreverent application that you create just for your Page. This could be tied into your brand in multiple ways; try to think of something that people outside of Facebook would appreciate or enjoy that will remind them of who created it and keep them coming back, like a game or contest.