Recently I’ve noticed an influx into the market of web-based Facebook builder apps: services which allow non-techies to create custom Facebook pages or Facebook apps without needing to understand code or hire a developer. Having tried some first-hand, I thought I’d do a quick list of some of these tools to help you choose which might be right for you. As most of my clients are small biz and/or non-profit, I’m not including any of the big fancy ‘platform manager’ things which cost a lot: these are all available for free or a low fee (usually monthly pay-as-you-go).
Best for: easy Welcome pages
Pagemodo is designed to be easy-peasy, and you really can create a nice looking custom landing page (Welcome tab) in just a few minutes. It’s free if you don’t mind Pagemodo branding, and if you pay as little as $6.25 per month, you can have up to 3 pages: either 3 different types of ‘tabs’ (eg. Twitter feed, Welcome tab & map page) – OR – if you manage 3 different brands on Facebook, you could have 1 custom ‘tab’ on each. You can also add a gateway which forces people to Like your page in order to have access to content (use sparingly!). Be warned though, the tool is a bit buggy and clunky, and the templates are a bit rigid design-wise.
Best for: integrating other social feeds & content
On Involver‘s free plan, you can use up to 2 of the Basic level apps, most of which are designed to pull content from other social sites into Facebook: Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Twitter feed, or RSS (eg your blog posts). There’s also a coupon app, as well as the ability to embed docs via Scribd (PDF, etc), and an iFrame maker which will allow you to embed any web page into a Facebook tab… but use this last one with caution as Facebook’s area is not as wide as most web pages, so you’ll ideally need a designer to make it look nice. If you need more than 2 apps or if you want their Pro apps (Polls, Signup forms, etc), then the price jumps up a lot to a whopping $99 per month (ouch!). I’d love to see them offering some middle ground in terms of pricing in future.
Best for: all-u-can-eat apps
North Social is the ‘buffet’ option: all the apps you want for 1 price. The price varies depending on how many Fans you have, starting at $20 per month for less than 1,000 Fans. The choice of apps is quite extensive, ranging from a few types of special offers and integrated shops useful for commercial businesses, to volunteering and donation useful for charities or garnering support for good causes, to the usual practical ones such as maps, photo galleries, embedded video, welcome pages and integrated Twitter or RSS feeds. North Social gives you many options to help build your fan base, but if you already have thousands of fans, it may not be the cheapest option: more than 5,000 fans and you’re looking at $50+ per month.
Best for: competitions & short-term campaigns
Wildfire‘s approach is a bit different from the others, as they price on a per-campaign basis. The fee starts from $5 + $0.99 per day for a basic campaign, but you’ll want to spend $25 + $2.99 per day if you want custom branding options. Wildfire has a range of different types of competitions, quizzes and contests, including contests where you can allow your fans to choose the winner. You could also use their ‘flash deal’ coupon option to create Groupon-style promotions. The downside to Wildfire is that they include other people’s campaigns in the confirmation email that gets sent to your fans who enter your own contest, which may not be the kind of thing you want to push on your fanbase.
Best for: Top Fans leaderboard
If you’d like to drive a little healthy competitive spirit among your Fans, you might want to look at Booshaka, as that’s their core offering: creating a hierarchical list of your fans based on their activity. Hitting right at the gamification sweet spot, the goal here is to increase interactions by employing game psychology, aiming at our basal human need to one-up each other in public 😉 On the paying plan, you can even add Foursquare-style badges to the mix, but sadly I can’t see their pricing and I must admit there’s a real shoestring start-up vibe on their site as some of their own site links don’t work or take you to ‘coming soon’ pages. Time to grow up guys.
This isn’t an extensive list, but these are just some of the tools I’ve tried and/or know about. If you have any similar tools that you have experience with, please do leave a comment as I am always interested to find other ways of helping people encourage engagement through social media.