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Improve your Facebook page with custom tabs

The Poked column took a hiatus from print today due to the holiday week, but here's last week's column on how to spruce up the tabs on your Facebook page, in case you missed it:

Last week, Facebook created, and then quickly recalled, a restriction on pages that customize their opening page, known as a landing tab. Businesses use this so that first-time visitors see a welcome graphic rather than landing in the middle of a "comment'' page, or Wall.

During the one-day change, page administrators could set up an opening tab only if they had at least 10,000 fans -- now called 'likes' -- or had spent at least $25,000 in advertising on Facebook.

After an uproar from the business community, Facebook opened the customization back up to everyone and said in a statement: "We apologize for the inconvenience this caused to our developer and business community. We are re-investigating the situation, and will not make any further changes without first giving our community standard notice and lead-time.''

For small businesses that don't have landing tabs, it's time to set one up. You can see some examples of this on company pages such as Victoria's Secret PINK, Dunkin' Donuts, Skittles, Dove and Macy's.

If you are an admin for a page, here are a few free tools you can use to create a custom tab. (But note that once someone marks that they like the page, they will see the Wall on the first visit):

  • To create a custom tab, you'll need the Static FBML application. Search Facebook for Static FBML, and then click to add the app. Go back to your fan page, click on ``edit page,'' and that's where you can customize the Static FBML with some html. When done, add the custom tab by hitting the ``+'' tab.
  • To change what tab shows up first, admins can click on ``Settings,'' directly under the "Share" button on the Wall page. A drop-down menu allows you to choose the default landing tab for non-fans.
  • On Facebook, you can find applications that help put a store on your page. Check out the Wishpot store app or My Merch Store by Zazzle. Pages like The Onion and NBAStore.com have used iFanStore by Milyoni -- good-looking, but not free. Prices for Milyoni to build a store start at about $1,000.


If you don't want your store to be your opening page, be sure to put a box promoting the store on the Wall page. Regan Poston, vice president of customer success at Milyoni, said the box promoting the store on the Wall gets four times as many clicks as the Shop tab does.

It's worth the time to welcome your fans with more than just a messy wall. And you might as well learn now ... before Facebook changes its mind again.

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This article got me started and helped me find a site called http://fanpagebuilders.com that does facebook pages for small businesses. I've used them and it works pretty good for the money.

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