As of October 1, all Facebook applications will be required to have SSL certificates to ensure secure browsing over Facebook. Since Facebook considers a custom page created with iframes to be an application, the server that your page is hosted on must have a SSL certificate; otherwise, people won’t be able to view your page. Ask your Web host for more information about SSL certificates and their cost. Once you have the certificate, fill out Facebook’s Secure Canvas URL and Secure Page Tab URL fields for your application.
Other Third-Party Apps for Facebook Pages
Various other third-party applications can help you build a custom Facebook page. Be sure to review the cost and the requirements of each before selecting one. Not all of them are free, and many require at least a little knowledge of HTML.
Wildfire is best known for its applications that allow you to run a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook, but the service also has a custom page tool. It is currently free but Wildfire plans to charge for it in the future. Apparently, free users will be grandfathered in to the paid version.
Involver has a suite of applications for Facebook. Static HTML pages will create a custom page tab. The application requires knowledge of HTML. You can use two of Involver’s applications for free; but using additional ones will trigger a fee.
Iwipa is a free application for Facebook pages; it doesn’t require any knowledge of HTML.
What to Seek in a Professional
There are a number of questions to ask when hiring a professional to create your custom Facebook page. First, ask to see a portfolio of the person’s work. Even designers who don’t have a lot of experience should have created some sample pages.
You’ll also want to know the cost, payment methods, and terms, and how long the project will take. A single Facebook page should run between $200 and $500. Other questions to ask: Will the designer be hosting the page, or do you need your own server? How will SSL be handled? Will the designer create the graphics or will you be responsible for providing them?
Managing Your Page
You’ll manage your Facebook page in Facebook’s ‘Edit Page’ section, which includes a number of tools and useful resources. From your Facebook page, click the Edit Page button, which defaults to the ‘Manage Permissions’ screen.
The ‘Manage Permissions’ screen contains a number of useful sections.
Your Settings: This section includes posting preferences—which determine whether the page or the personal profile will make wall posts—and email notifications.
Manage Permissions: This section determines page visibility, age and country restrictions, the default landing tab, and whether visitors are allowed to post on the page.
Basic Information: The fields in this section are specific to your business: address, phone number, about, hours, email, and the like.
Profile Picture: You’ll use this section to upload or change the logo displayed on your Facebook page.
Featured: This area is designed for managing pages that the page has liked as favorites, and for displaying information about the page owner.
Resources: This section contains tools for promoting your page, linking your page to Twitter, sending an update to your fans, and advertising.
Manage Admins: The owner of a page is also an admin. In this section, you can designate additional admins. As noted earlier, though, any admin can remove any other admin—including the page owner. So add only trustworthy individuals as page admins.
Apps: This section is the place where you manage any the Facebook applications associated with the page, including both default applications and custom ones.
Mobile: This location handles setting up mobile email, the iPhone app, and text messaging.
Insights: Facebook pages statistics appear in this section, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the next section.
Help: This is Facebook’s help section.
Checking Page Statistics
Facebook provides basic statistics about traffic and visitors to your page in the Insights section of the Edit Page.
The Insights section consists of three subsections: Overview, Users, and Interactions.
Overview: The overview subsection displays ‘New Likes’, ‘Lifetime Likes’, and ‘Monthly Active Users’ under ‘Users’, and ‘Post Views’ and ‘Post Feedback’ under ‘Interactions’. The default time frame is the past month, which can be changed to the past week or to a custom date range. You can export this data to a CSV or Excel file.
Users: This subsection provides more-detailed information about the page visitors, such as gender, age, location, and referrers. In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that most of the page’s visitors are male, and between the ages of 25 and 34, and from the United States. Such information can help you determine the customers that your business best serves.
Interactions: This subsection provides statistics on post views, post feedback, number of views per post for the previous month, and activity on the page. If visitors aren’t allowed to post on the page, no data will appear under the page activity section.
If you build a custom page with iframes, you can add tracking code from Google Analytics or other stat-tracking programs.
You should now see the benefits of having a Facebook page for your business and have the information you need to create a custom page with your own branding. Make sure that you post interesting and useful content regularly to keep people interested. Maintaining a Facebook page that lacks activity and interaction is worse than having no Facebook page at all.
On my own Facebook page, I post links to my articles, but I also provide other content and links that will interest my visitors. Your visitors will appreciate a personal touch, too, such as your asking them questions about their favorite product, their favorite software, or even their plans for an upcoming long weekend. The more you interact, the more engaged visitors will be with your business. And there is nothing better for a business than postive word-of-mouth recommendations.
Kim Woodbridge is a freelance Web developer specializing in WordPress and Facebook. She blogs regularly at (Anti) Social Development. You can check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter as @kwbridge.