Facebook Applications

Facebook Applications or ‘apps’ give Facebook Page owners the ability to create a Facebook Page that is more engaging than the basic Facebook experience. Facebook apps’ primary benefit is that rather than sending fans away from Facebook to your own website in order to provide them a ‘rich experience’, you are able to keep your fans on your Page within the ‘Facebook environment’, with the result a ‘fan’ who is more likely to be engaged with your Facebook Page who interacts with it after using the app contributes to your Page by either posting a comment or Liking something on your page’s wall.

Importantly, Facebook apps give Page owners the ability to run contests and competitions within Facebook in accordance with Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines. Facebook mandates the use of an application to run contests within Facebook, explicitly prohibiting the use of Facebook features or functionality so people can enter your competition.

Facebook depreciated the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) that was previously used to create apps in March 2011. All new Facebook apps need to be HTML, JavaScript and CSS code that runs in an iFrame on your organisation’s page hosted on your own server. If you don’t have the resources to build a Facebook app internally within your organisation, you will will need to hire an external developer or agency to code/build you a ‘custom’ app (Prices range from $1,000 upwards of $10,000+ depending on complexity) or you can use one of the many ‘off the shelf’ platforms available for a more modest fee.

Among the best value ‘off the shelf’ Facebook app platforms are Wildfire and North Social, with prices from as low as $5 per campaign for Wildfire and $19 per month for North Social.

North Social’s app platform is more advanced, allowing your organisation to run up to 15 of their ‘apps’ on Facebook at once. North Social’s apps include apps that let you run your Youtube Channel within Facebook, display your Twitter page, as well as photo and sweepstakes competitions to mention a few. North social is harder to setup, and ideally requires custom design and artwork created to use it best, but delivers very good results for such a modest cost.

Facebook apps are a great way to create an enriched experience for your Facebook fans. Don’t use them as a substitute for getting the basics right, but rather as a way for taking your organisation’s Page to the next level.

Originally part of my blog series commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts.

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