Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Utilising Facebook

If you're not on Facebook you're missing out on the best free advertising in the current market. Facebook is increasingly becoming the common way users interact with their favorite businesses and brands and until recently you had to rely on the inflexible Facebook programming language (FBML) to create custom content. On 11 February this year, Facebook launched a host of changes of which some revolved around the flexibility of the tab page.

As of 11 March, all business and personal pages will be converted to the new layout which actually removes the tabs across the top of the page and replaces them with a streamlined and sleek left side navigation. The best news however is that tab page content can now be pulled in using an iframe.
Iframed tab content is not only a good move on the part of Facebook, but fantastic for businesses looking to get a richer experience for their customers on a platform that most use every day.

Now you may have heard that using iframes are bad for your website, and that's true in almost any other context. They were publicly frowned upon by most of the online community almost 10 years ago however the reasons revolve around usability and scalability. That really hasn't changed, but Facebook offers a static sized platform that works functionally well.

One of the tricks that Facebook allows you to do, is to hide content until a visitor 'likes' you. This isn't a new function by any means, but utilising rich content within the Facebook page gives users some incentive to like you. The upside of doing it that way is that you are now automatically part of your customer's feed.

Some great ways to use the iframe..

1. Create an alternate layout for your product listing that can run off the content in your CMS.
2. Run an online FAQ and/or inquiry form for users to learn more about you.
3. If you have some form of order tracking system, a version of that system would be beneficial.
4. A photo gallery or work portfolio
5. A promotion is a great way to get customers to 'like' you.

With all this great news, there are some limitations.

1. The iframe on the tab page is limited to 520 pixels wide and 800 pixels high (updated - the 800px is a default height but can be overwritten. There are some issues with macs using Chrome at larger sizes though). Similar to a mobile optimised website design, the thin layout means that you really need to consider the content layout and what it most important for a user to see.

2. Content is still governed by the Facebook terms & conditions and the way you interact with your customers still needs to follow their regulations or you could find your account suspended.

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Talk to Digerati today about the rich content we can develop or optimise from your existing site into your facebook page.