Facebook continues to evolve as a marketing tool.
As of the 10th March, Facebook Page tools were updated. FBML (Facebook Markup Language) is being downgraded and because of this Facebook is lowering support for its use. They have indicated that by the end of the year, your old FBML tabs will stop working. Like everything with Facebook, we will have to wait to see what really happens as they change fast and often.
What have Facebook done instead?
They've introduced Apps for Fan Pages. Previously you could really only build an app as a stand-alone program within Facebook. They were the realms of programmers, not your average marketer.
This new change means that now everyone can add an iFrame app to their fan page and create customized landing/welcome pages for people who haven’t “Liked” you yet. Yes Static FBML did allow you to create similar tabs but apps allow you to take it much, much further.
One of the most important basic functions that this change brings for affiliate marketers is that the use of the app framework allows you to implement multiple step Likes. This means that when people click Like on your fan page, you can if you want to, take them through multiple steps e.g. Like, Share, Complete set action before they are taken to your page.
What does this mean to a marketer?
It means you can offer someone an incentive to complete the actions you want to step them through. For Liking your page, you can give them access to a free ebook, PDF, MP3, video. But, to get that download, they must first complete your survey, CPA offer, form, read your affiliate offer, etc. There is also a large list of other things that you can get them to do because now you have access to a much more powerful programming language than FBML.
In the past couple of months I've seen people using this stepping technique with apps to bring in impressive dollars from CPA offers (up to $400 every 10 minutes in one case). Now you can do the same thing without having to be a talented programmer.
Is it Black Hat to make people do this?
I think that this depends on how you go about setting up the process and what the requirements of your CPA network or affiliate program are. I have seen some very dodgy black hat methods working super effectively. That doesn't mean that I would do the same or support their efforts. But, you can learn from them.
One process I saw impressed me and I thought that it could also be used in a white hat way if you thought it through.
A Like message showed up on my Newsfeed saying that a friend liked a video with a very catchy title. When you clicked on it, you were taken to a web page that looked like YouTube (layout, graphics, comments).
Naturally you clicked on the video to start it playing. This started a string of actions. In the background, it Liked the app, added a Like message to your newsfeed and then popped open a message over the video image indicating that if you wanted to see this amazing video, you had to complete 1 of the 4 offers listed.
It was about then that I took a screenshot and backed out. I also went to my Newsfeed and deleted the Status Update and deregistered the App from within my security settings.
OK, so it was DEFINITELY black hat but it was a sweet system. I’m sure that just from reading about it your mind has started ticking over with ways you could make this work more ethically. For example, instead of CPA offers, you could ask people to share with 1 other friend.
Getting started with iFrame Apps
What is an iFrame? I like to think of it as a window in a web page that allows you to stay where you are but “look” at another page inside a frame. Effectively you can operate a website within another website. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the old days on the web when frames ruled until the search engines caused their demise.
Here is an app that I am working on using iFrames within Facebook. It’s not a fan page but works the same way. What you can see is a WordPress site showing through. It’s not pretty yet as it’s a work in progress but it does demonstrate the basic iFrame app.
Building an iFrame app for your page is relatively easy if you can follow instructions but there are a couple of hidden points that can cause problems. You must store your iFrame files in a sub directory on your domain. It won’t work if you have them in the home directory (took me an hour to work this out). Also, the help files on Facebook aren’t specially helpful. They’re missing a range of steps that you need to understand.
Still, to get started, you should read their docs and sign up to build your app at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/guides/canvas/ and have a look at their samples at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/samples/.
You can buy a range of courses and kits to get you started with FBMaxed being one of the latest. I suggest that you start here if you’re not a programmer. Even if you are, you get a head start on the coding and there is very little change needed to get it working.
Personally I bought a package a couple of weeks back and although it’s basic, the instructions are clear and I was able to use them to produce pages like this one quite quickly with some adjustments to the graphics. I will no doubt update this to a 2-step template when I get time.
So what’s the advantage to an affiliate?
In an article about using social media late last year, I suggested the following promotional steps:
- Find an affiliate product to promote that will appeal to your friends. Write a short update about how useful it was to you and add your affiliate link. Remember to use Bit.ly to allow you to track clicks and cloak your ID.
- Insert these offers regularly but not too often. There seems to be a range of different ratios for this but they seem to vary between every 5th and every 10th post once you have a reasonable size group of friends.
- Don’t bury them in offers. You wouldn't like being advertised at all the time so don’t do it to other people.
Those steps related to working with the people you already have Liking you or your Fan Page. With these new changes, you can really target an offer towards a specific group or niche before you even get to them.
Here is my basic affiliate Facebook marketing system utilizing the new changes:
- Choose a niche market or topic
- Locate an extra juicy affiliate offer that these people might respond to, for example one where they can download unlimited DJ mixes.
- Set up a Fan Page with a viral name e.g. Free Entry to Hottest NYC Nightclub!
- Make a page to be iFramed promoting your Fan Page and how it leads them to a coupon for free entry. You could do a deal with the club promoter etc.
- Using 2 step Like coding, set up your app so that after they click Like, they are shown a special offer (affiliate product) before they go through to your Fan Page to get their free entry coupon.
- Voila! Now you have a Fan Page with viral potential and an affiliate offer not to mention that you can keep promoting to these fans if you work it right for months or years.
- Remember to invite your friends or start promoting on NYC pages and newsfeeds to get it rolling.
Ask yourself, “How could I customize this system to work for me?”
Is it for you?
These new changes bring with them a realm of possibilities for affiliates. You don’t need a website to get started, you can implement powerful systems and harness the power of social media.
It’s not the end of websites. It’s another way that you can tap your market and reach that niche you know. Once you have a large group of fans, you can draw them over to your site if you want to. Why bother though?
Social media puts you in the palm of their hand!
To learn more about Facebook apps and learn how to build your own, I recommend you start where I did, with FBMaxed.