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David F Carr
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Facebook Tools For Building Brands

HyperArts' Tim Ware is teaching businesses how to use reveal tabs, iFrames, and other development tools to lure fans and market companies.

This doesn't allow the kind of server-side processing you could do to include dynamic content if you created your own Facebook app, but it's perfect for simply showing one image or message to non-fans and another to fans. TabPress is free if you don't mind a small HyperArts logo appearing at the bottom of your tab, and Ware will also sell you a white-label version for a price (to be negotiated).

The art of the reveal tab is in figuring out what to present in those fan and non-fan slots. A lot of businesses get this wrong, Ware said. Too many are out there shouting "like me, like me" without answering the visitor's basic question: "What's in it for me?"

"It's like walking up to a girl on the street and saying 'kiss me, marry me,'" Ware said. Liking a page is a somewhat lesser commitment (particularly for those who know where to find the "unlike" button--left side, bottom of the page), but people still want to know why they are doing it.

Asked to name some of the HyperArts-produced reveal tabs he is proudest of, Ware pointed to Autodesk Homestyler, First Security Bank, Compassion International, author Tami Lewis Brown, and Mutiboko. The welcome tab for fashion designer Mutiboko merely says to like the page to "stay up to date with our latest collection and news," but most of the others offer a more explicit quid pro quo.

The charity Compassion International wants you to, first of all, sign up to "join us in releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name," but as a thank you, also offers a free download of "Got a Lot to Give--Songs of Compassion." First Security Bank has a free iPad contest you can enter after signing up. Autodesk Homestyler features one interior decorating video on the welcome tab as a teaser and a half-dozen more you can see once you like the page.

With iFrames and XFBML, Facebook has removed almost all the technical limits on what you can do on a Facebook page, Ware said. "You could pack a whole shopping cart experience in there if you want to." He pointed to the Threadless Tees page as one that does just that, redirecting you to its ecommerce site only after you've chosen the size and style of a shirt and had the opportunity to "like" the product.

Though most of technical limits associated with FBML have gone away, Ware cautions you do have to pay attention to Facebook's terms and conditions, which for example specify disclaimers you must include in any sweepstakes promotion. There are also a few restrictions on the content you can include, which for example prohibit videos from playing automatically without the user clicking a "play" button. Other than that, the sky is the limit--and for his business, too.

"Just lately, we've kicked it up a notch," Ware said. "This social media stuff has been just like a godsend and opened up all of these doors. We happened to be more of an early adopter there, and developed a reputation. We just happened to finally pursue something that matched up with what everybody was looking for."


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