It has been over a year since ChurchMag shared how to create a Facebook Page and Facebook has undergone so many different changes. Unfortunately, during that time Christian organizations seem to have not invested in the power of the social network to show the products, services, or community that could be shared with people that might have an interest in what you do. With these changes in Facebook, users now have more marketing power than before to share a brand or network to people.
The basics of a Facebook page are the Wall, Photos, Events, and Questions. They are the staple of Facebook that can be seen in an individual’s page as well, but we want to set Pages apart from a typical user. We want to add functionality to our Facebook page that creates excitement and an increase in interaction with viewers. The solution is custom pages and more specifically landing pages, a customized first page new viewers get to see. This allows us to put our best foot forward and give a great first impression.
From FBML to iFrames
When custom pages were first introduces, Facebook made up its own language to allow your custom pages to interact with data from viewers. Yet, their are many limitations with this model as well as having to learn and keep up two different ways of maintaining pages with Tabs and Canvases. The new solution is iFrames, a very common website concept. An iFrame is an inline frame, an HTML structure that allows another HTML document to be inserted into an HTML page. Google uses iFrames for their image searches when you initially view the image on the original page after you leave Google’s search results.
This means that the content of your application is located in an HTML document that is NOT hosted on Facebook’s servers and so you can develop the full page on your own web servers first and then put it on the Facebook page. This also means that Facebook has had to create an API (application programming interface) so that developers can continue to interact with user data. In fact, the API gives much more flexibility and power to developers. We will look at that API in part two.
A Simple Solution
I titled this a simple solution because that is what it is, but it is also a very limiting solution. For many organizations and people, they would not and should not settle for a third-party app because there is so much more flexibility and creativity that can be accomplished making an app yourself. (We will discuss that in a second) But for some that simply want a quick and easy presence on Facebook that is more than the basics that Facebook provides, we can utilize prepackaged custom pages.
Wildfire has several Facebook applications, including their most popular: contest and sweepstakes apps. Their app is easy to install right from their website and has the option for fan-gating. Their iFrame app takes care of hosting your content as well as utilizing fan gates (providing fan-only content). While this is the best option available right now, they have recognized this and are considering making this a paid service. Thus, be aware of other products like TabPress and TabSite.
Utilizing Facebook Apps
With these changes, we will need to not only jump into the world of Facebook Pages, but the entire other world of Facebook developers and apps. Yes, we will in fact be making our own application, though for the purposes of this tutorial series, we will only skim the surface of what you could do. The process is tricky, but hopefully over the next several posts, we will make it a little bit easier for you to navigate.
So for now, set up a basic Facebook page and develop a strategy of what you want to present on your future Facebook page.