I know what you’re thinking. The phrase “Facebook applications” makes you break out into a Farmville-induced sweat, but not all Facebook applications were created in a sea of vapid. Some have real business uses and can help small business owners increase their Facebook marketing opportunities. Don’t believe me? Below are a few of my favorite business-oriented Facebook applications that can assist your business with better branding, better promotion and even better customer intel.
I mentioned this application a few months back in my Facebook SEO post; however, I don’t think its marketing power can be stressed enough. What the Static FBML application does is allow you to create a custom landing page for your visitors to land on. This way instead of having users land on a page that looks and feels like Yet Another Boring Fan Page, you can shape their experience to make it one that engages and sells. The Static FBML application can be a little tricky to set up, so I recommend you read Jesse Stay’s FBML tutorial on Techipedia. He does such a great job breaking it down that even I could do it after that lesson.
If you download and use one application on your Facebook fan page, make it this one.
We often talk about how important it is for users to be engaging with your updates. This simple act ensures that your fans are actually seeing your status updates and that they’re not winding up in the unread abyss. Polls are one way that many small business owners try to build engagement and get users to share their content. Well, that’s where the Facebook Poll app comes in. This application takes the informal polls that SMBs sometimes create in their normal status updates and makes it a whole lot more official. The Poll app is really easy to use and set up, and simply requires that you provide it with a question, some possible answers, and set if the results are public or private. Because you can set the responses to be private, it’s also a good way to get feedback about recent product launches or other issues. The uses for this one are pretty much endless.
Promotions for Fan Pages is another popular and powerful Facebook application that small business owners should be aware of. This application helps SMBs to create and publish branded contests, coupons, sweepstakes or giveaways to get more attention and to give users another reason to interact with the page. To get started, you’ll need to create a free account via wildfireapp.com. Once you’re set up, SMBs can build marketing promotions by specifying the types of prizes up for grabs, requirements for entry, contest dates and other details. Because so many small business owners naturally use things like coupons and giveaways in their marketing efforts, I really like this one. It helps increase exposure to the promotion you’re running and also gives fans something exciting to engage with.
NetworkedBlogs is one of the many applications available to help small business owners share and promote blog content. The reason I prefer this app over something like Social RSS (which is great for simply pulling in RSS feeds) is because it’s a lot more community-oriented. To get started with NetworkedBlogs, you’ll first have to download the application and then verify (a) that you own your blog and (b) that you authorize NetworkedBlogs to pull this information onto your page. The process is painless and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Once you’ve confirmed your status, you’ll be able to add your blog to the NetworkedBlogs directory, optimizing your blog name, tag lines, associated tags, description, etc. Not only will the application pull your content onto your Fan page via a new Blog tab, but it will also allow others to find you in the NetworkedBlogs directory when they do a search for blogs on your topics. That’s where I think this application beats out many of the other RSS syndication apps.
In the spirit of aggregating content, the YouTube for Pages apps allows small business owners to easily pull their YouTube videos for display directly on their Facebook Fan page. Yep, that’s right, no more multiple uploads. Downloading the application will add a new Tab to your Fan page and give fans direct access to your most recent or favorite YouTube videos. It also gives you another reason why you should be experimenting with online video.
Storefront Social is interesting in that it allows you to link your e-commerce Web site with your Facebook page so that users can view your merchandise directly from Facebook. Combine this with a service like Payvment and you start to see how social media will soon house real transactions built on real relationships. The process of uploading your products is relatively painless and simply requires importing a CSV file or uploading manually. The one small catch is that it’s not free. The app comes with a few different price points (starting with $4.95/month for 36 item uploads), but I think the value more than outweighs the small fee for the features provided.
Those are some of my favorite Facebook applications that don’t involved tending to a farm or feeding virtual animals. What business-oriented applications are you currently using?