There has been lots of good conversation over at the Zoetica Salon this week about building Custom Facebook tabs (image above is the tab for the Zoetica Salon built on Beth Kanter’s Fanpage). It was of particular interest to me since I built two such tabs within the last month, one the Nonprofit Zoetica Salon community, which I built with the free tool hy.ly, and the Zoetica Salon Reveal Tab, which I hand-coded with FBML, and lots of help from AllFacebook and Tim Ware on the blogs Social Media Explorer and Media Arts. I have also built a few tabs for clients and been a part of teams where we had custom tabs built. Still, I consider myself a newcomer to tabs and exploring the best ways to use them.
There are lots of changes coming to fan pages, including the phasing out of the proprietary FBML code, which was required to build pages, to a more well-known iFrame standard. However, in the meanwhile, you may still want to build a tab, and most Facebook watchers say that the company will most likely support FBML pages for some time to come.
To take a look at some nonprofit examples, and also some of the reasons to make a custom tab for your Facebook page, you can check out Debrea Askanase’s Slideshare presentation about using custom tabs to convert visitors to fans. And Zoetica CEO and nonprofit blogger Beth Kanter has a good post on how to move Facebook Fans up the ladder of engagement,
In this article, I am going to sum up the findings from the discussion over at the Salon and mention some resources out there to get your page built. They fall roughly into four categories, including: Do It Yourself (DIY), Free Applications, Semi-Custom Applications, and Custom Applications.
Let me start by saying that the list is not exhaustive. I know there are 100s of services out there to help people build custom pages and I definitely have no time to research and list them all. I also welcome you adding the ones I missed to the comment area, However, I would ask that if you do, thatyou identify which of the four areas they fit and give a price range.
Do it Yourself with FBML
It’s free if you can do it
The FBML standard for Facebook pages is changing to the more standard iFrames
Do It with Free Apps
It’s free and you don’t have to deal with code
You have to “pay” with ads on your tab, or by “LIking” someone’s page
Hy.ly. http://hy.ly/ (You must LIKE their page to get the credits you need to build your page). They also have some new apps, including a sweepstakes app coming up.
Page Lever Welcome Page, http://www.pagelever.com, Free basic page, upload an image
Free TabSite Weclome Page, https://www.facebooktabsite.com/steps.php
The tab will show ads
Semi-Custom Paid Apps
Pro: You get some pretty cool apps for a fair price. Also, when Facebook changes it’s direction to iFrame, some of the more stable of these companies might make those changes in its product (seamless for you)
Con: You have to keep paying every month. Also, if they don’t make the FBML switch well, you might be caught holding the bag.
Plans from $19-$100 per month, for one Facebook page
Lots of interesting and visually appealing apps
Plan is $3 per month
Pretty basic and straightforward, no frills, service
Starts at $5 a month to $15 a month for all the bells and whistles.
Starts at $0 for less than 500 fans, but quickly goes from $5 to $500 pr month based on number of fans
Custom Tab Builders
Pro: You get whatever you want
Con: It costs a lot, from around $1,000 to many thousands (average of about $5K)
There are so many custom Facebook tab builders out there that I could hardly start to list them all. Buddy Media is a well-known company that builds tabs for many brands, but some of the people above, including Tim Were from HyperArts, can build custom tabs. Also, Munish Gandhi says hy.ly builds custom tabs, too.
I would love to hear from readers who they use. If you are a developer, be sure to also leave your price range in the comments.