These days the focus on Facebook for business is less on the initial setup and more about “what’s next”. Everyone already has a Page and a basic content strategy, and now they are looking to step it up a notch by jazzing up their page with some cool Facebook apps and driving engagement through competitions. But how do you take that step? Should you engage a social media agency to look after it for you? Or hire some whiz web developer to build your Facebook contest?
No! Get out of town. You can do it all yourself with a number of third-party tools out there that use drag-and-drop functionality so you can easily build the tab you want (whether it be a competition, form, simple image or otherwise) without needing to write a line of code.
This was exactly what Wildfire did (and still does, albeit only for enterprise). Like many other social/web services before it, Wildfire recognized the potential for enterprise and decided to focus solely on big business moving forward. There are now no plans available for small to medium businesses.
So, what other tools are out there, and which tool is the best? I’d be lying if I said I’d properly tested them all. I haven’t. But I can tell you which one I use and why. And I can give you some other alternatives to check out. So I guess without further ado, perhaps I should actually do that, right? Right.
The best Facebook Application Tool, according to Cara Pring (who is otherwise known the genius of all things social and internet-ish) (…not really)
I have been using the same Facebook app tool for the last couple of years – Shorstack. I love them! How can you not love a company that on their about page lists their CEO as ‘Overlord and “Pancake Guy”’ I mean, for anyone who has read virtually any of my other articles on this godforsaken (cough, awesome) site, you gotta know that’s the type of thing I’d be into.
A couple of years ago, I was so enthused by these guys I got in touch with said Overlord, and we’ve built a partnership ever since. But it’s not just the team that’s awesome; their customer service and overall offering are also pretty cool. My favorite thing about them is they are constantly improving. That is what online businesses need to be about – continuous improvement – and these guys get an A+. Every other week there’s a new feature, and they work closely with Facebook so that they are always on top of Facebook’s fifty million changes every quarter.
Shortstack caters really well to the small to medium business group, which is another reason I love them. Their pricing options are:
- Free: Up to 2,000 Fans (some limitations on widgets and features)
- $30/Month: Up to 25,000 Fans (all widgets and nearly all features)
- $75/Month: Up to 100,000 Fans (full white label and all features)
- $150/Month: Up to 250,000 Fans (full white label and all features)
- $300/Month: No Fan Limit (full white label and all features)
They also provide countless templates for competitions, contact forms, sweepstakes and even seasonal tabs like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, plus targeted tabs for places like restaurants etc. You don’t need to know any code at all, however, you can also customize using CSS, HTML and iFrames if you are a designer/developer (or have one on your team).
They’ve got something like 30 different widgets to drag into your tab – images, forms, Twitter integration, YouTube… even MailChimp. And for competitions, they even have ready-made refer-a-friend and voting functionality – no complex code required!
At the risk of this starting to sound like one huge advertisement, I will move on – but I did write another review on Shortstack a couple of years ago. They’ve definitely improved even more since then, but it may prove useful if you’re looking into signing up.
So if Overlords and Pancake Guys aren’t your thing, what are some other Facebook App service options?
PageModo: Includes a free plan for one page and one tab, otherwise starts at around $6 per month (one page) and upwards.
TabFusion: $40-$200 per year, depending on the plan
Tabsite: Has a free plan if you want to have ads and only minimal functionality. Otherwise, paid plans between $10-$30 a month.
Heyo (formally Lujure): Between $3-$95 per month.
If I were truly a social media goddess as everyone (EVERYONE) proclaims me to be, I would provide a really detailed comparison of all of these services, which obviously would be more helpful to you. However, I’m a real person who tries to have a real life, and unfortunately, that means I don’t have TIME TO DO EVERYTHING. I’m just one person, dammit! And to be honest, Shortstack is just so damn awesome, I really don’t see the need to check these other ones out. But please, if you have used another tool, share your feedback below. Just beware that obvious SEO spammers will have their comments deleted and their families destroyed. Not really that last part, but I just wanted to try and make it sound even less appealing.