[This is a three part series about creating a welcome tab for your Facebook page. This tutorial will focus on two of your options (self-hosting and using a third party app). There will then be two separate tutorials for how you would accomplish each option.]
If you’ve created a Facebook page for your brand, you likely have little problem getting current customers, friends and family to “like” you. But those who aren’t familiar with you need more than just a Wall to convince them to include you in their social circle.
This is where the Welcome Tab comes in. Your tab could be copy, it could be an image, it could be a combination of the two. But it should do a good job of describing who you are and the benefits of the page. It should be interesting, engaging and unique. And, most importantly, there should be a call to action — instructions to “like” the page.
Now, you have options regarding how you create this page. Which option you choose will depend on how much work you want to put in and how much control you want. But there are also performance considerations.
So are you going to build your own Facebook application and host it yourself, or are you going to use a third party app to do it for you?
Option 1: Use an App
If you are limited on time, knowledge or patience, use the third party app Static HTML: iframe tabs. It’s really very easy. Once you have the code for the content of the welcome tab, you simply need to paste it in to a text box. They also make it extremely easy to create optional views for fans and non-fans.
- Very easy. If you have the content, you can set it up in minutes.
- The app takes care of the well-known scroll bar issue.
- No complicated code needed to create different views for fans and non-fans.
- No need to create a Facebook app and become a “developer.”
- App takes care of providing a secure URL, which may be a problem if you host it.
- Depending on your hosting environment, load time may be better with this app.
- No control over the icon for the tab, which is always a star. Affects branding.
- Since you don’t host the content, you don’t get direct traffic to your site.
Option 2: Create an App
If you want full control, you’ll want to create your own Facebook app. This sounds intimidating, but it’s not that bad. I’m not a developer by any means, and I’ve done it. So chances are if you know some basic code, you can do it, too.
I go into the details of how you do this in a separate tutorial. But basically what you’re doing is iFraming in content from your own site with a native Facebook application that you are developing. I use “developing” very loosely. You create an “app” but it takes only a couple of minutes to do.
- You have full control over everything. The icon, the content, performance, etc.
- Do you have an SSL certificate on your server for secure browsing? You need an https url
- You need some programming chops to remove scroll bars and create optional views
- Depending on your hosting environment, loading of the iFrame can be very slow
Now, there does appear to be a work-around for the secure url issue. I can’t vouch for the legitimacy or dependability, but there is an app called Social Server that hosts a secure url for you. I’m trying it out with no issues so far.
I was also able to find code to remove the scroll bars. And I’ll provide that code in a separate tutorial.
This is where you expect me to tell you what to do. It’s up to you. You have to weigh the pluses and minus of both. The biggest negative of the third party app is that you can’t control the branding of the icon. But creating an app may also be more trouble than it’s worth, especially for a welcome page.
Right now, I have both on my page as I decide which way to go. I’m leaning towards using the third party app for the Welcome tab, but continuing to use iFrames for pulling in other content from my site.
How about you? How do you create your Welcome tab?