Facebook Pages: Social Plug Ins vs Applications.
Facebook’s influence on business continues to grow daily, and any business looking to start a foray into the world of social media usually starts by establishing a Facebook page and/or adding “Like” buttons to their website or products. While creating a page is a must for any business starting off in social media, starting the process can be daunting and the distinction between components such as plug ins and applications can become blurred. Understanding what they are and when they should be used is important for a business.
Social Plug-in’s, as Facebook calls them, were their first offering to help people socialize their websites and products. Plug-ins consist of the ubiquitous “like” button, share buttons, comments within a website, and log-in additions that allow users to log into the website through Facebook itself. Plug-ins were created to allow businesses to share and socialize their content simply and cheaply (read: free). Facebook also provides free analytical tools to allow a business to track how effective their plug-ins are at sharing content. Plug-ins are the ideal choice for a small business looking to grow its social following on a tight budget.
Facebook Apps is the next level up once a business has exhausted its use in plug-ins. Apps are often found as the page tabs that can be seen on the left side of the page. Some examples are welcome tabs, polls, and contact forms. Various companies such as Wildfire and Involver have sprung up to meet the needs of this new market and provide simple and effective ways for businesses to develop applications for a set cost or pricing package. Apps can also be created in house via the Facebook canvas (apps.facebook.com) but a basic to advanced knowledge of HTML is necessary. Apps exist to offer businesses the opportunity to provide their users with much more rich and engaging experience than a plug-in would allow alone.
Both plug-ins and apps offer businesses a range of tools to enhance their user engagement and hopefully increase conversions. Deciding which to use can be a tough decision though. Plug-ins are a great start for a business on a budget or for the business that is trying to build a fan base from the start. Apps are the next logical step for a business that already has these fans or needs to propel their content to a larger audience.
To decide on which method is best for your business, ask these three questions:
Do you already have a large audience? If the answer is no, than plug ins are your best choice, but if it is yes apps are the way to go.
Do you have a budget to promote? If your business does not have a set budget to promote, than go with the cheap and effective social plug ins. If you do have a budget than craft a slick, engaging app that will put your page in the spotlight.
Are people already engaging with your business on an ongoing basis, and if so what drives them? This is a two part question and perhaps the most important. If customers are already engaging with your business without plug-ins and apps, then take the time to determine why and tailor your app design plan around that. Customers will often provide you with the right verbage and ideas to keep them coming in the door on their own.
Any business can use tools such as plug ins and apps to grow a large, engaged fan base and socialize their brand identity. Determining the best way to go about it is an important step, but without understanding the tools at your disposal a business will never be able to create and effective and meaningful campaign to increase customer engagement.