There are thousands of Facebook apps, including a growing class designed for marketing use on company Facebook Pages. Here is a list of 16 different marketing strategies — using apps — that can help your ecommerce business.
1. Facebook Send button
Facebook recently launched the “Send” button, which allows Fans to send your content to their friends. Think of this as you would a “forward to a friend” button in email.
According to Facebook, Fans have the option to send your URL in an inbox message to their Facebook friends, to the group Wall of their Facebook groups, and as an email. While the Like button allows users to share your content with all of their friends, the Send Button allows them to send a private message to just a few friends.
Facebook has added a new Send button to its list of social plug-ins.
FriendCard is a way to increase brand visibility by offering Fans the ability to send customizable branded greeting cards to their friends directly from your Facebook Page. Cards can be scheduled for delivery or sent immediately. Each time a card is sent, it gets posted to the recipient’s Wall.
Each card carries your logo, so each time one is sent recipients and their friends are introduced to your brand. FriendCard is currently free, though upgrades containing premium features are expected soon.
FriendCard allows Fans to send customized branded greeting cards to friends.
3. Branded YouTube Channel
Merchants increasingly utilize online video to showcase products. This can include creating a YouTube channel for those videos. A number of Facebook app providers incorporate the YouTube channel into Facebook Pages as a separate tab. Here are three options:
- Involver offers a YouTube channel app as part of a suite of free apps.
- NorthSocial also includes a YouTube channel app as part of its suite. This particular app offers a customized header. But it is not free. The price begins at about $20 per month.
- Best YouTube Channel for Pages is an app designed for use on both Facebook Profiles and Pages. The layout features one video, with clickable thumbnail images to others. It is free.
Merchants who use blogs for marketing can now incorporate that content into Facebook using the following free apps.
- dlvr.it is a content syndication app that takes the RSS feed from a blog and routes it to Facebook as a Wall post. It includes a link back to the post on the merchant’s site.
- NetworkedBlogs takes posting content to Facebook a step further than dlvr.it. Users are required to register their blogs with NetworkedBlogs. Then, the app creates a tab for the blog that is added to the Page navigation menu. In essence, it creates a replica of the blog’s index page within Facebook. When a new blog entry is published, NetworkedBlogs posts it to the Wall, along with a link to the full entry. NetworkedBlogs can be used on both Pages and Profiles.
NetworkedBlogs brings your blog content into Facebook.
Involver and North Social both provide a Twitter app that functions similarly to the YouTube apps, in that it creates a separate tab just for the Twitter feed.
6. Sweepstakes and Contests
Sweepstakes and contests offer useful ways to engage Fans and keep them returning to your Page. Run a sweepstakes — to give away prizes — based on a random drawing. Decide contests winners by public voting. Wildfire and Woobox are two companies that offer sweepstakes and contest apps. Wildfire is a premium service, while Woobox offers its app for free.
Not every merchant wants to discount his or her products. But using Facebook-only coupons and special offers is one of the best ways to stimulate Fan page growth. Several companies offer such apps – Wildfire, NorthSocial, Offerpop and Woobox, to name a few. But, use of coupons does not necessarily require third-party apps. For example, you can create special promotional codes that are recognized by your shopping cart and post those to Facebook.
8. Polls and Trivia
Polls and trivia are tools that can be used to keep Fans engaged with your Page. Polls can also be used to conduct market research and get customer feedback on products and services.
Facebook now offers a poll function in the new Questions option, which Page owners can access via the Wall. It offers basic functionality, but should suffice in most cases. If other features are required, such as use of images, Facebook app developer Fanappz offers a more robust version for free.
“Fangating” has become popular as a method to grow a Page’s Fan base.
It works as a two-stage process. A non-Fan visits the page where an offer is being pitched, such as a special discount, coupon or free download. Before the person can take advantage of the offer, he or she first has to “Like” the page. Once that action is taken, the visitor is taken to a previously hidden page where the offer is revealed.
I explain fangating in greater depth in “3 Tools to Create New Facebook iFrame Pages,” where I also list three app providers that make this process easier.
10. Customer Feedback
Customer feedback software provider Uservoice offers a Facebook app to enable Fans to submit, discuss, and vote on feedback. At $89.00 per month it may be outside the range of smaller ecommerce merchants, however.
One of the best ways I have found to get customer feedback is simply to ask by posting a question to the Wall. Alternatively, you can also use the Facebook Questions app. Both of those options are free.
11. Group Deals
Ecommerce merchants are beginning to experiment with group coupon buying popularized by companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Wildfire, NorthSocial and Woobox all offer apps that enable Page owners to run their own group coupon deals inside the Fan page. Woobox goes so far as to use the fangating technique to require that visitors first Like the page before being able to access the deal.
Woobox and others offer a group coupon deals app for use in Facebook.
12. Mailing List
Email providers MailChimp and Constant Contact offer apps that enable Fans to sign-up for a merchant’s email list directly from the Fan page. Practical eCommerce uses a customized versionof the MailChimp form on our Facebook Page.
Constant Contact and other email service providers offer Facebook apps.
If you do not use either of those two email service providers, you can still incorporate a contact form to gather emails. Appbistro, for example, offers a contact form.
13. eBay Items
Merchants who use eBay are in luck. There is an app called eBay Items that allows sellers to display eBay items on a Facebook Fan page.
14. Amazon Items
There is also an Amazon version of the “eBay Items” app, called Amazon Items. This can help merchants who sell products on Amazon.
Sellers who use Etsy can use MyEtsy. It pulls in the seller’s Etsy shop into a separate tab on the Fan page.
16. Real Gifts
Facebook has long offered virtual gifts that users could purchase and give to their friends. Real Giftsis an app that makes use of the Facebook gift shop to enable the purchase of physical products.
Real Gifts is a directory of hundreds of products from many online retailers. Merchants apply to become Real Gifts’ vendors and, once approved, transfer a list of products to the Real Gifts online catalog. Orders are processed via Real Gifts transaction tools.
You may wonder if there is a directory for all Facebook Page apps. To my knowledge, such a directory does not currently exist. Appbistro is a marketplace of Facebook business applications that contains a large number, but only apps that pass the site’s quality control standards to ensure security and proper functionality get included in the directory.