The Marketer's Apprentice

The Complete Guide to Creating a Custom Facebook Landing Page (2012)

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.

Sam the ScammerLet’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.
The Complete Guide To Customizing Your Facebook Page - The Marketer's Apprentice

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.

“The Factory”

The FactoryI 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)

“Fanpage Elite”

Fan Page Elite: Custom Facebook Landing Page Tab PackagesFanPageElite 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”

Tweet Pages

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.

“SplashLab Social”

The Complete Guide to Customizing Your Facebook Page - The Marketer's ApprenticeThere’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

Option #2 - Outsource your design + implementation I have worked with a LOT of designers and coders from Odesk and have had mixed results. It’s common to find excellent talent for a very good price, but you’ve got to know a few tricks.

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

[Click here to access 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”

Shortstack: Facebook Fan Page GeneratorShortstack 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

Shortstack Pricing: Facebook Fanpage Generator

“Fanpage Engine”

Fanpage Engine: Facebook Fanpage GeneratorMy 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

Fanpage Engine Pricing

Option #4- DIY + Static HTML: iFrame App.

Static HTML: iframe tabsapplication

How to Customize Your Facebook Profile Image and Landing Page - The Marketer's ApprenticeStatic 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

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.

Also, if you enjoyed this guide, please share it. A Tweet or Facebook Like/Share shows your gratitude. (Thanks!)

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark January 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

If only FB ‘fans’ were actually worth something!

The time for fancy gimmicks, fangate systems, and all that jazz is coming to an end.

What people in business need are customers, not fans. Facebook is in vogue, but for most people it’s vanity NOT sanity.

If you have a good product, the list of where to spend your marketing dollars, or time, has many entries before you get to Facebook.

I

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Jenn January 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi Mark:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Facebook as a marketing source.

I’ve often thought the VERY same thing!

However, I do think there is a definite place for Facebook as a business. It’s important that customers and potential customers have a place to interact with a brand today. They expect it.

I see Facebook marketing as an addition to everything else a business is doing to promote themselves.

Don’t ignore it!

Jenn :)

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pete February 9, 2012 at 3:35 am

FB fans ARE worth a lot! Ignore at your peril. Fish where the fishes are…

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Jenn February 9, 2012 at 5:32 am

Agreed.

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Tricia Krietzberg February 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

Hi Jen. I’m new to the concept of Landing Pages, and I’ve just been through your comprehensive video tutorial. But, when I create the landing page with a frame for new fans and a frame for existing fans, neither of the frames show up when I enter the page. I did check “welcome” under the manage permissions section. I’m a bit confused. Also, I’m trying to put an email newsletter in the second box. How would I go about doing that? Each time I put a link, it just shows the link. Thanks for your help!

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Jenn February 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

Hey Tricia,

Way to go! At least you’re on your way and I’ll help you resolve your issues.

1. let me know the URL to your page so I can look.
2. what auto-responder are you using? You’ll need to copy the HTML code from your auto-responder to enable an optin box to show up.

Best,
Jenn :)

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facebook developer January 5, 2012 at 3:57 am

It is very important that Facebook fan pages are brand aligned .This information is helpful! Thank you for everything! I already subscribed to this blog.

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Jenn January 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

You’re welcome!

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Joanne G. January 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Great stuff, Jenn! Thanks for doing all the “leg work” for us. Will be implementing your advice.

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Jenn January 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

You’re very welcome Joanne. As you implement, let me know if you need any help! It’s fun having you here.

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Al Burgo January 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Can I Promote your Blog on my WebSite?

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Jenn January 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Hi Al:

Shoot me an email: support@themarketersapprentice.com and tell me more about what you have going on.

You’re from Nome?

Thanks,
Jenn

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Al Burgo January 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Yes! There’s no place like Nome!

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Lin S January 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Hey Jenn-So glad you’re back! Have fun in Ecuador! Great info! Thanks!
(ps-I am from Juneau-live in Seattle now :-)

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Jenn January 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hi Lin!

Great to have you here. Let me know how/if I can help you out in any way.

Best,
Jenn :)

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Edward January 9, 2012 at 6:43 am

Your guidance is always so generous and helpful. Thanks!

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Jenn January 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

You’re very welcome Edward. It’s great to have you here!

- Jenn

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Victoria Gibson January 15, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I love this article Jenn. Thanks for all the research. I love Fan Page Engine, but their servers are down this weekend due to a virus :(
It;s hard to get all you want in one place – great business opportunity for someone!
I’d love to share this on my Page too.
Thanks for the mention!

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Jenn January 16, 2012 at 6:51 am

Hey Victoria:

Glad you like it.. and good to see you here :) It’s great to hear your feedback on Fan Page Engine too…

Thanks for sharing my work,

Jenn

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JP January 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Free SSL Image Hosting link is closed due to copyrite…. SOPA… :(

Is there another Image Hosting site that you would recomend?

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Jenn January 24, 2012 at 4:24 am

Hey JP:

Darn. Thanks for pointing that out- I’ll need to update the guide to keep up!

I don’t currently have a recommendation for another image hosting site… let me do some research and I suggest you look back toward the end of the week.

Best,
Jenn

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erwin van der worp February 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

thx, good tutorial!

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Jenn February 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

You’re welcome. Glad you found value!

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pete February 9, 2012 at 3:32 am

Continuation from youtube! So much good info, Jenn.

I am starting a new business, no loans, no savings, so looking to be saved by tech and social media.

Thank you for the iframe tips. I shall give it a try and see how it goes.

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Jenn February 9, 2012 at 5:32 am

Hey Pete:

Welcome! Let me know if I can lend a hand as you go about implementing :)

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Susan Hutchinson March 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

This is great Jenn! Thanks for all you do!

I do have one question – do the new “timeline” changes affect anything that you discussed in this article?

Thanks a lot and enjoy your time in Equador!

Take care,
Susan

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Jenn March 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hi Susan,

The changes (effective March 30) will change the instructions in this article. When I know more, I will update the post.

Facebook is hard to keep up with!

Jenn :)

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Pablo March 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

i used the dropbox public link option that you re-directed me to, but when i add the s to http; it does nothing in the html editor except add the link instead of the actual picture, please help, im not really an html kinda guy, i am a designer just not too code savvy.

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Jenn March 4, 2012 at 4:48 am

Hey Pablo,

Good for you for giving it a go! It sounds like you’re getting close. The deal with images in HTML is that you need to add an image “tag” in order for the image to show up. Have a look here: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_images.asp

And hey, while you’re at it, would you mind showing me some of your design work? I’m always keeping my eyes open for good designers!

Great to have you here.

Jenn

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James March 28, 2012 at 2:50 am

Hi Jenn,

Great job here Jen!I totally agree with creating a Facebook landing page. Before I started out a business (an online business that is) I didn’t think of having a landing page. Thanks to my team who are addicted to Facebook they made me realize that it’s really important for fan pages to have one, especially to businesses who have a Facebook fan page.

I’ve heard some of your lists of websites you listed there but the service I’ve tried is from http://designfanpage.com/

They made an awesome job for my fan page, very much satisfied with it and gave me an increase of my fans too. I’ve tried other free landing page creator but I was not satisfied with it, because it seems to lack something. I was happy with the design I made but after few days I realize something is missing. So that’s why I outsource it.

Another great fan page design I found is Coca-Cola and Threadless. I find it very interactive and attractive.

Cheers,

James

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Jenn March 28, 2012 at 5:10 am

Hey James,

Glad you’re finding success with Facebook. And I really appreciate you sharing your experience with a service that’s working out for you. Thanks!
Jenn

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Jennifer August 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I have had a FB fan page for a while now and I did not know about adding a landing page. So now I am trying to add one and in the manage permissions section I don’t have an option for a default landing tab… What can I do? Do I have to start from scratch and make a whole new page?

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Jenn August 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Unfortunately, FB removed the default landing tab option when they transitioned to Timeline. You do not need to create a new page, you can still create a landing page tab and direct paid traffic to it, OR, you can also direct traffic to it by using a thumbnail image for your landing page that creates interest. Please see how I did this on The Marketer’s Apprentice FB page. I’m referring to the “start here” thumbnail image. More questions, please go ahead and ask.

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Jim Robb August 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hi Jenn,
I’ve been reading through your excellent write-up on Creating a Facebook Landing Page 2012. I was especially interested in your video on “Static HTML: iframe tabs app”.
I am in the process of setting up a FB page for my small business and would like to create a “fan gate” capability. However, I’m confused about whether this is still possible with Static HTML: iframes and similar applications or if Facebook changes have now eliminated that possibility.
Thanks,
Jim

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Jenn August 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hey Jim,

Yep, you can still create “fan gates” with the app. Let me know how it goes for you + if you have any questions along the way.

Best,
Jenn

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Jim August 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Hi Jenn,
Thanks for your response. I have been trying to trying to set up the landing tab for my FB page using your Static HTML: iframes tab video as a guide. I have come across a few problems. I find that FB no longer allows user selection of a default landing page. Using the Static HTML app allows one to display a public and a fan message IF the visitor clicks on the “Star” Static HTML icon once they are on your page. But NOT as a landing page that they see first. The Star icon can be renamed but you still have to hope the visitors will click it to see your message.
Following your video, and using an on-line html editor does work well for text entry for the public and fan message displays. (I did find that the on-line editor at http://htmleditor.in/index.html) seemed a bit more user friendly. At least for me. However, I could NOT get a picture imported from Drop Box. An email to the Static HTML people revealed the Drop Box no longer supports this function.
SEE BELOW:
Ahh, dropbox images. Dropbox actually stopped supporting the ability to host images for anyone who set it up after July 31st. The link you are using probably goes to a page on dropboxes website that shows the image, not directly to the image itself.

Their suggestion: have your own image server or pay them to to use theirs.
I’ve found your Marketer’s Apprentice website and info very helpfull and extremely well presented. However, for my little business I think I’ll just highlight a comment on my FB page welcoming visitors and stating my discount when “Liking” my page.
I hope this message wasn’t tool long and rambling for you. Thanks again for your help.
Regards,
Jim,
V.U. Sound Studio

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FearRacious October 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hi Jen.,
Nice Tutorial I like it.It helps me promoting my clients business.Anyways,the link for WYSIWYG editor wasnt right?When I click it.It didnt show up the same one in you’re video so I google it and found the link http://htmleditor.in/index.html,so that was the link.Maybe you can change your link for that link..

Tnx

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sandra October 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Hi Jenn,

This is a great article!! I have created static hml i frame tab with a pic for possible fan to like to get more info on our specials. Now Im trying to find out if i can link this to our qr code. So far i pasted the link and generated the code but it takes me to the welcome fan page and not the html iframe tab. Do you happen to know some info on this?

Thank you so much!

Reply

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