A number of companies offer free apps that give merchants the ability to add custom content, such as a Welcome tab, to Facebook fan pages. In this article I review five of these apps, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Facebook app provider Woobox has a free fan page app that facilitates the use of HTML, images, or a URL on your website to create a custom tab. It also offers Likegating, multiple tabs, and custom tab names.
The app had no problem handling the HTML code I input into the form fields and correctly rendered it to achieve the intended results. Alternatively, page administrators can configure a tab using a visual editor, similar to that found in Microsoft Word. The image editing option is simple to use — uploading an image from your computer is all that’s required — and includes a field for a hyperlink.
The third option, use of a URL, is unique among those on the list. It allows a page from any website to be pulled into the Facebook tab. Such pages must adhere to Facebook’s 520 pixel width restrictions, however, to prevent horizontal scrolling.
The app includes visitor analytics tracking, image hosting, and the ability to use custom tab icons in the left-hand column navigation menu. Also, there is no Woobox branding on the page itself.
Two other unique features — Friendgating and Formgating — are available for a cost of $10 per month. Friendgating is a marketing technique that requires a visitor who Likes the fan page to have a certain number of friends who also Like it before he or she can access page content. Formgating enables page administrators to build custom HTML forms.
This is one of the most feature-rich apps on the list. It offers:
- Rich-text WYSIWYG and HTML source code editing options;
- Image file hosting with up to 25MB of storage space;
- Google Analytics code inclusion for stats tracking;
- Custom icon creation for use in the left-hand navigation column;
- Likegating for both Fan and non-Fan content.
However, as a source code editor it falls short and is better suited to the visual editing environment. I found that it failed to render HTML correctly even though it was properly formatted, which indicates there are certain tags that it cannot interpret or support.
It works well for simple formatting of text and images using the visual editor. Users familiar with Microsoft Word should be able to use this app quite easily.
3. Social Guides Welcome App
Facebook app developer SocialGuides offers its version of a welcome tab app primarily to promote its fee-based apps.
The app is very streamlined and includes only the use of hyperlinked images. A default image is provided, but custom images can be uploaded.
Though Likegating in its truest sense is not an option, visitors who Like the page can be redirected either to the Wall or to second image. Similarly, there is no HTML editing option.
If a simple, easy-to-use app is what you are looking for, this one qualifies.
4. Wildfire iFrame App
Wildfire, a developer of custom Facebook Page apps, offers a free fan page app to help market its fee-based products. Despite numerous attempts, I have been unable to successfully create a tab.
The problem is that the app is very particular about the HTML tags and attributes it will and will not allow. The screenshot below shows an example of the types of HTML that it forbids. The list is extensive. As such, if the use of HTML is necessary, I cannot recommend this app.
The app allows users to include a custom icon in the left-hand column navigation. It requires the use of Facebook’s Developer Toolkit, however. Instructions are provided, but the process is arduous enough to dissuade less technical users from following through.
A Word About TabPress by Hyperarts
Web design and development company Hyperarts offered a free welcome tab app called TabPress that many small businesses use. However, the company has discontinued the free version in favor of a “white label” one that carries a fee.
If you are using TabPress, the company states it will continue to support existing installs. However, I would consider using one of the other apps instead.