Times are changing fast. Not long ago a prospective customer would type your name into Google to find out more about you.
Then they’d visit your website.
Today things are different.
Today there’s an equal, or arguably BETTER chance that your prospective customer will search for you on Facebook.
What will they find?
When a customer first finds you on Facebook, you want the context to be right. In the virtual sense, you want to make eye contact and greet them as you hold the door for them to enter.
The door you’re holding is your custom Facebook Landing Page. This page greets and incentivizes a visitor to “Like” your Facebook Page. You want to be providing a clear direction for your visitors.
The worst scenario for any self-respecting business on Facebook is to have their new visitors land on their Facebook Wall.
Let’s think about a scenario for a moment.
Meet Sam. Sam is a spammer. He likes to leave random junk comments on blogs and Facebook walls with the hopes of getting some junk traffic to his websites.
Sam just left a doozie of a comment on your Wall, RIGHT BEFORE your brand new visitor arrives. The very first interaction they have with you and your brand on Facebook is Spammy Sam’s comment!
This guide will save you time & money and spare you frustration
Creating a custom Facebook page can be damn frustrating! Weeding through all the options and making sense of Facebook’s constantly changing environment confuses the best of us.
Let me start by telling you what this guide is NOT. It isn’t an affiliate promotion. And it isn’t a list of available tools with a short summary pulled from websites. It’s also not a “how-to” guide for marketing your business on Facebook.
Honestly, I went more than just a little bit overboard. What you’re about to read represents over 30 hours of research, testing, implementing, and interviews… I wanted to test all varieties of fan page generator software. I didn’t just look at portfolios of custom design outfits…I called ‘em up and interviewed CEOs. And I needed to thoroughly understand best-use-practices for Facebook’s new iFrame tabs.
My goal in creating this guide is to save you time, money, and frustration. This guide represents my personal recommendations for your BEST options when you’re ready to customize a Facebook presence for your business. A branded profile image and landing page tab(s) are pretty much required to be taken seriously on Facebook. Here’s your guide.
Custom landing page tab?—let’s make certain we’re talking about the same thing
You’ve probably seen Welcome Pages on Facebook like the Red Bull example below (you’ll need to scroll down a little.) These are called custom landing page tabs and are the subject of this post. We’re going to talk about HOW you get your landing page tab (and branded profile images) done with the least hassle.
Example: Red Bull’s custom landing page tab
This is the custom landing page all new visitors to the Red Bull Facebook Page see. Notice how they land on the “Red Bull” custom tab (greyed out in the image, below the Red Bull profile image.)
The custom landing page copy ASKS the new visitor to “Like” the page while teasing them with what’s to come (“hint, hint” and the blurred background image.) The contents in the background image are revealed when the new visitor clicks “Like” and becomes a fan of Red Bull’s Facebook Page.
Go ahead and try it. Here’s Red Bull’s Facebook page link. The common term for this functionality is “fan-gating.“ It’s a powerful way to get more fans by making content exclusive to fans.
A little bit of talking Geek.
Facebook uses iFrames to let users put their own content into Facebook’s website. iFrames (inline FRAMES) are basically structural “translators” which allow us to incorporate our own custom HTML content into our Facebook page.
Each custom landing page tab on your Facebook page will require it’s own unique iFrame application. So, if you eventually create, say, 10 custom landing page tabs, you’ll have also added 10 unique iFrame applications.
iFrame application = puts HTML content into a tabbed area on your Facebook page.
HTML document = the design & content you put into your iFrame
Your head may be spinning at this point. It’s OK. Take a deep breath cause this post is going to help you weed through the many available options for (1.) applying an iFrame application to your Facebook page and (2.) customizing the contents of your iFrame (HTML document.)
You have four choices for customizing your Facebook page
First, I’ll outline the four options for you. Then, further down the page, we’ll take a closer look at each, in turn.
#1- Completely hands-off
If you’ve got more money than time, this is the solution for you. Hire a designer who specializes in Facebook fan pages design a profile image and custom landing page(s) for you. The design firms I evaluated below will do both the design and implement the code. Think turn-key product.
#2- Outsource the Design & Implementation
If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty and you’re NOT a designer, this option may be for you. Hire a designer (see details below for more on hiring a designer from Odesk) who can both DESIGN and IMPLEMENT your custom fan page designs for you. Have them use the Static HTML: iframe tab application (mentioned below) to create your custom iFrame tabs.
#3- DIY with the help of a fan page “generator”
There are several fan page “generators” on the market. Typically, you gain access to the software for a monthly fee. The ones worth their salt integrate seamlessly with Facebook and take care of the iFrame application(s) for you. The real appeal with these generators are their customizable design templates and widgets that add functionality to your custom landing page.
Be forewarned: templates look amazing straight from the professional designer. They usually don’t when someone without design skills touches them!
#4- The complete DIY solution
It’s really not too difficult to roll up your sleeves and DIY with the Static HTML: iframe tabs application (mentioned in greater depth below.) If you’ve got an eye for design OR you’re not looking for something too professional just yet, it’s super easy to use an online WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and get the job done super fast yourself. More on the DIY option below.
Option #1-Done for you
The design firms highlighted below specialize in custom Facebook landing pages. They provide full integration of their design work into your Facebook page so you don’t have to worry about any of the technical stuff.
I must admit, I’m 100% partial to working one-on-one with designers. I like to hop on the phone and discuss my marketing goals, and then work directly with the same designer to revise until I’m satisfied. The Factory offers this.
I hopped on the phone with Brian Stoudt, owner of The Factory, and drilled him with questions. Here’s why I’m recommending them as my top choice for hands-off custom Facebook landing page tabs:
- “mom and pop” shop feel—you’re talking with a real person who cares about your business
- their turn-around times are outlandish—3-5 business days from start to finish (with a co-operative client who responds equally fast)
- their rates are reasonable ($400 for a custom landing page tab complete with a like-gate, if desired)
- one-on-one interaction between client and designer
- The Factory will house your Facebook custom landing tab design inside the ShortStack fanpage generator software, which is great for enabling you to login and make your own changes to the design or copy (it’s nice to be able to make small edits/tweaks yourself without having to pay your designer to do it)
- $80/hour hourly rates with no minimum for on-going maintenance or changes (if needed)
FanPageElite is a good choice for a hands-off custom Facebook landing page design.
For $797, you’ll receive: one fully customized Facebook landing page tab complete with a like-gate (if you choose), one custom Facebook page profile image, one custom Facebook personal profile image, hosting, and complete installation of the approved designs. Throughout the design process, you’ll have direct communication with your assigned designer (this is good.) Your designer will present you with an initial design for comment and if changes are required, they will revise until you’re satisfied.
Estimated turn around time: 7-10 days. Once the page has been completed, FanPage Elite designers change $45 /per hour for graphical edits. Small changes, such as updates to copy or swamping out videos they’ll either do for free or a small fee.
TweetPages is a family owned and operated design firm specializing in social media backgrounds (Twitter, YouTube) and Facebook branding packages.
What I love about TweetPages is the client interaction. They use video to show their clients their mock-ups! This may not sound like much, if you haven’t worked with designers before. It is. Seeing your designs mocked-up in video with several variations presented allows you to provide more specific feedback to the designer… and you’ll end up with a finished product you’re much more pleased with.
TweetPages prices are reasonable. $97/Facebook profile image, $397/custom Facebook landing page (includes a reveal tab.) I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a try myself.
There’s not a whole lot of information about SplashLab Social on their home page, so I decided to dig a little deeper and find out who they are, what they offer.
After shooting them an email, I was invited to hop into an online meeting where their co-founder, Geoff McDonald. He shared with me exactly what SplashLab Social has to offer.
In a nutshell, SplashLab Social is a social media strategy company focused on helping you develop and grow your brand on Facebook. They do much more than just design your custom Facebook landing page tab(s). Their teams will work with you, one-on-one to develop an entire Facebook marketing plan.
Being that SplashLab Social will do much more for your business than just develop a pretty landing page, you’ll pay more for their services. Custom landing page tabs start at $2,500.
Option #2- Outsource it
In the video below, I show step-by-step how to find a designer from Odesk who can both design & implement your Facebook profile image and custom landing page tab.
Step-by-step instructions for finding a designer on Odesk
Option #3- DIY with a fan page generator
This is usually the most popular DIY custom landing page tab option. Most people assume that using a page generator will eliminate the need for design skills. It won’t. I’ve seen a LOT of crappy looking fan pages that started with beautiful templates. If you don’t have an eye toward design (like me), it’s amazing the damage we can do!
NOTE: the fan page generators listed below DO NOT generate profile images. Just custom landing pages. You will still need a designer to design a profile image for you unless you want to go with simple and just use a professional image of yourself. If you want one professionally designed, you might try www.CustomFanPageDesigns.com ($67) or www.TweetPages.com ($97)
The two fan page generators I selected below were chosen from the many I evaluated (Lujure, Pagemodo, Fanpage Generator Pro, and several others did not make the cut.) These two made the cut because I consider them to be good options for you to invest your valuable time and money into.
Shortstack is a robust Facebook fan page generator perfectly suited for social media managers looking to build custom pages for clients OR the solopreneur wanting to dive deep into Facebook marketing.
I’ve selected Shortstack as my top choice because it has the most professional interface and robust set of features of all the fan page generator software listed on this page. For instance, with Shortstack, you have the ability to hold contests, sweepstakes, and manage an entire social media management business building custom landing page tabs for clients all for under $75/month.
You can even do a LOT with Shortstack’s free plan, but I’d recommend upgrading to their Silver Dollar ($15/month) plan if you want to remove their footer branding (“Powered by Shortstack”) at the bottom of your pages.
All of Shortstack’s plans include the option for “fan gating” (see the Red Bull example above for more on “fan gating”.) There’s more room to grow with Shortstack than most solopreneurs will ever need.
NOTE: There is a learning curve with all new software. I estimate a 4 hour time investment for new users familiarizing themselves with the software for the first time.
Here’s Shortstack’s Pricing Table
My favorite thing about Fanpage Engine is that they do not have a monthly fee! Yah!!! (I personally avoid monthly fees like the plague.)
Besides offering fixed price plans, Fanpage Engine is reasonably priced for a robust software. I do think you’ll want their full “Developers” package ($147 one time fee) to get access to their complete template package.
Using a drag and drop user-friendly building environment complete with WYSIWYG editors, Fanpage Engine offers all the functionality you’re likely looking for, with the exception of the contest and sweepstake widgets only offered by Shortstack.
Here’s Fanpage Engine’s Pricing Table
Option #4- DIY + Static HTML: iFrame App.
Static HTML: iframe tabsapplication
Static HTML: iframe tabs is a third party Facebook application which makes it simple to create powerful custom iframe tabs.
Although there are several other, free, third party static HTML applications (TabPress, Wildfire, Involvr, and others), my field testing proved Static HTML: iframe tabs to be the best.
As with the Facebook fan page generator software (above), using the Static HTML: iframe tabs application will not solve your problem of where to get a profile image for your fan page. My suggestion is to: (1.) use a good, professional image of yourself or, (2.) hire someone on Odesk to design a timeline image (the larger image, next to your profile image).
The Static HTML: iframe tabs application WILL do the following: (1.) add an iFrame tab to your fan page, (2.) “translate” HTML code you paste into the iFrame into Facebook’s website, (3.) give you the option for “fan-gating”, (4.) give you the option to add Google analytics to your custom landing page tab(s), (5.) give you the option to use one custom tab icon (more than one custom tab icon requires a paid version of the application.)
Video: How to use the Static HTML: iframe tabs app. to create a custom Facebook landing page
Watch this video to see how easy it is to use the Static HTML: iframe tabs application + a free online WYSIWYG editor to create the HTML contents you’ll need to apply to your iframe.
Tools mentioned in the video
- Static HTML: iframe tabs application
- Free SSL Image Hosting (www.FreeVPS.us/img/) [NOTE: FreeVPS.us/img/ is not longer available. Another free option is to use Dropbox's "public" folder and just switch your http:// public links to https://- here's a video showing you exactly how to use Dropbox in this way]
- Free Photo Editing Software (www.FotoFlexer.com)
- Free WISIWYG Editor (www.online-html-editor.org/)
NOTE: I didn’t mention this in the video, but the Static HTML: iframe tabs application includes the ability to use one free custom tab icon + Google Analytics for tracking visitors to your landing page tab. Very sweet 3rd party app!
Reviewed and not recommended
I reviewed and tested a lot more software and services than those listed above. The rest did not make the cut, for various reasons (some listed below.) In some cases I didn’t bother to review a software because it was obvious from looking at the features that it was not a worthwhile solution.
I didn’t recommend a software or services if:
- there are better, less expensive solutions
- a software was “buggy” during my testing
- a software did not provide an option for integrating with multiple email marketing software providers
- it was too confusing (and time consuming) to use
Have a look at the list of software/services I reviewed in the process of creating this guide: Click to Expand Page >>
Now it’s your turn…
How are you going to create your custom Facebook landing page and profile image for YOUR business? Leave a comment below with your answer.
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