New Tools Emerge to Help Develop Facebook Pages

Businesses need Facebook Pages. The Facebook Page is replacing both blogs and corporate Web sites as the primary means of engaging customers and promoting products and services. The need to be unique and stand out from the crowd has given rise to new products and services to help businesses design better Facebook Pages.

Creating a Facebook Page itself, is quite simple. Just go to the Facebook "Create a Page" section and follow the prompts. The tricky part is tweaking and customizing it to make it more appealing, or to promote specific products and services.

Facebook has its own flavor of HTML called FBML--Facebook Markup Language. The Static FBML app lets companies add custom tabs to the Facebook Page. I used the FBML app to create the Welcome! And Buy My Books tabs on my Facebook Page. With a little HTML--or FBML as the case may be--skill, a business can use Static FBML to create dynamic, eye-catching tabs for a Facebook Page.

For those who like a more user-friendly, no coding necessary, plug and play solution, there is Shortstack. Developed by Pancake Laboratories--hence the clever name--Shortstack provides an easy to use, affordable tool enabling businesses to create custom tabs for Facebook Business pages.

A spokesperson for Pancake Laboratories commented, "Facebook has become a key advertising, communication, and engagement tool for companies ranging from your mom-and-pop corner store in Bismark, North Dakota, to Nike and Victoria's Secret. Capturing an audience and keeping engaged on Facebook business pages is a task not easily accomplished, even for knowledgeable and experienced agencies handling social media outreach."

Ad agencies and Web developers can get in on the action as well. FaceItPages offers a turn-key custom Facebook solution. The FaceItPages White Label option works for Web site creation services, hosting services, or marketing services, interested in offering Facebook Page customization seamlessly integrated into their existing product offerings.

Companies should step back and take some time to understand the benefits and limitations of a Facebook Page, though, rather than just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Perhaps you remember when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, and every business had to scramble to buy a .COM domain. Then, they'd throw up a Web site with little idea of what to with it, and even less idea why. Then, we did the whole thing over again when companies felt compelled to start blogs, or jump on the MySpace.com bandwagon.

Facebook Pages are the next essential medium for engaging customers, and businesses do need to embrace them and get on board. But, it should be done in a way that shows an understanding of social media and not just blasting the same marketing slogans.

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