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Wednesday: Create Custom Tabs on Your Fan Page

In the early days of Facebook, users agreed to run applications that imposed themselves on a Facebook profile. The thought was that users wanted to express themselves not just by sharing information, status updates, links, photos, and so on, but also by running different third-party applications and sharing results with friends.

As time passed, a few things happened. Facebook changed the rules for application developers along with the propagation of applications on Facebook profiles. The News Feed became the first thing that people logged into every day, making profiles a little less important. And finally, Facebook created a sandbox for all the applications to live.

That sandbox is known as Facebook Boxes on both personal profiles and fan pages. However in early 2010, Facebook will be removing the Boxes tab, so the only way users will be able to interact with an application on their profile or on fan pages is via tabs. This change is aimed at helping application developers get more visibility and engagement from the users.

Although additional apps and tabs are largely ignored in the context of a user profile, they can play a significant role in the Facebook fan page. Using Facebook’s powerful application Static FBML (available at www.facebook.com/apps/application .php?id=4949752878), you can create entirely customized content for your fans, and nonfans, to see.

You can add multiple iterations of Static FBML, and each one can have its own unique tab title. Plus, you can select which of your tabs you want visitors who are not yet fans to land on. For example, you may want to display a welcome video greeting, have a sign-up form for a newsletter, or provide persistent rich-media content.

Conclusion

Custom tabs are a great way to generate the view you want users to have when they visit your page for the first time. An important point to note is that each tab on your fan page has a unique URL. This allows you to direct fans/nonfans to specific tabs on your fan page and perhaps even conduct an A/B test by using a link-shortening service such as bit.ly.

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