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Facebook Tools For Building Brands

If you want to know how to build a more effective Facebook business page, Tim Ware and his firm, HyperArts, are names to know.

Though HyperArts is a relatively small Web consulting shop (12 employees, plus a small team of contractors), he and his team have gotten far enough ahead of the curve on using Facebook for marketing that they are starting to pick up big-brand accounts like Whole Foods. They also set up the page for Guy Kawasaki's book Enchantment.

Along the way, HyperArts has built its reputation by freely sharing advice and tutorials with entrepreneurs and Web designers looking for guidance on how to use Facebook as a business tool. Ware has written a comprehensive guide to creating a great Facebook page within the layout framework introduced this year. I particularly wanted to hear his thoughts about how to create a good "reveal tab"--a welcome message that compels a visitor to click the "Like" button, which is Facebook's way of letting a user indicate they want to subscribe to the feed of posts from a business or brand.

"If a brand does their reveal tab right, it's a very powerful way of building up a larger fan base," Ware said in an interview.

For an example of one he admires, Ware mentioned Red Bull--the same example I called out the other day for not having kept up with Facebook's https browsing feature. That technical glitch aside, the Red Bull page is a good example of showing fan-only content grayed out in the background, so people have a hint of what is waiting for them once they click "Like."

"That's a perfect example of showing this little promise of what lies beneath," Ware said.

In their latest incarnation, Facebook business pages are organized into multiple content tabs, including standard ones like the Wall for ad hoc discussion. You can create custom tabs by registering any external Web page or application as a Facebook app. In the process, you're supplying the Web address for the content to be retrieved when a user selects your tab. When Facebook fetches the content to be displayed within an HTML iFrame on that tab, it also posts a small amount of data that your application can use to determine whether the user has liked your page.

A reveal tab shows a different message to fans than it does to non-fans--typically enticing the non-fans with a promise of all the wonders that await them if they click that button, and then presenting the goods once they do.

HyperArts has made this easier for non-programmers to accomplish by releasing TabPress, a Facebook application you can use to create a custom tab on your Facebook page. TabPress is one of several such applications created to fill the gap left when Facebook stopped accepting new users for its old Static FBML tool, which many page owners relied on to add custom content. This was a fairly primitive tool that let you paste in a block of code, including Facebook Markup Language, basic HTML, and a limited set of JavaScript commands.

That approach is obsolete now that Facebook is promoting iFrames and XFBML. TabPress is similar to the Static FBML app in that it provides a basic code editor you access from within Facebook, but now your code can include any HTML, CSS, and JavaScript you might use on any other website. TabPress also goes beyond replicating the Static FBML app in that it lets you paste in two pages worth of HTML--one for fans and one for non-fans.

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