Despite its privacy issues, Facebook clearly has a key role in global Internet activity. It has become a kind of universal social network, being used for both personal and business needs. For many individuals, companies and organizations, Facebook has become an integral part of their branding strategy and promotional campaigns.
Facebook provides many tools for maximizing the effect of your presence on the social network, most of all by means of business pages, also known as fan pages. Using a variety of applications and Facebook API tools, one can get creative not only with the page content, but with the design, too.
In this post, we’ll give you an idea of how to use Facebook for your business and self-promotional efforts. Below, you will find best practices for custom Facebook fan page designs, with various approaches to creating an attractive, descriptive and engaging Facebook business page. In addition, the selection of tutorials and resources for Facebook fan page development might help you get started with your own effective Facebook presence.
By the way, it’s been two years since Smashing Magazine’s Facebook fan page launched (now with 18,500 fans). We have worked hard to integrate discussions, useful tips and give-aways to make the fan page more appealing and engaging.
[Offtopic: by the way, did you already get your copy of the Smashing Book?]
Showcase Of Well-Designed Facebook Fan Pages
Giants of the Industry
Big brands demonstrate the best use of Facebook by far. Getting millions of fans may not seem like a big deal for Coca-Cola or Victoria’s Secret, but these companies managed to create fan pages that engage users on a much deeper level than by just asking them to click the “Like” button. An interesting trend seen across this category is of large companies taking Facebook to a new level, putting it at the center not only of their social media campaign, but of their entire online presence.
Currently with the number one fan page for a brand on Facebook (with almost 8 million fans), Starbucks takes a distinctive approach, focusing less on loud entertaining apps and more on high-quality content and beneficial offers for its fans. Starbucks has learned how to effectively use status updates and how to share a lot of interesting, useful and engaging material aside from its product updates. The company also offers a couple of interactive apps that not only are fun (e.g. the Instant Story tab) but that offer tangible benefits (e.g. discount coupons, and functionality that allows fans to manage their Starbucks accounts right in Facebook). The fan page also has an interactive map that links to the company’s regional Facebook pages (just as BlackBerry does, as we’ll see). With no unusual visual indicators on its fan page, Starbucks demonstrates that functionality is at least as important as aesthetics.
The fan page for Red Bull is by far one of the best on Facebook. By implementing a number of innovative ideas and engaging apps, Red Bull makes the best of its Facebook presence and thus stands out from business pages for other brands. A good example of this is its Twitter stream, which, instead of featuring just Red Bull’s corporate feed, assembles tweets from sponsored sports athletes and allows fans to connect with them beyond Red Bull’s domain. Live Web TV that anyone can view right on Facebook and a variety of fun games also encourage users to interact with the brand. While the welcome page is not in the default menu bar, it’s quite informative and serves as a compact graphic map of the entire Facebook page. Red Bull is also a pioneer of using Facebook as a recruiting tool; adding a careers board to a profile with so many fans makes sense indeed. Bravo Red Bull!
Although Skittles’ fan page features two brightly designed, eye-catching tabs (one a graphic presentation with links, the other promoting its “Mob The Rainbow” campaign), the company has set its Wall tab as the default. This is typical of popular brands that don’t require an introduction. It allows fans and visitors to the page to immediately follow the company’s updates and join the conversation.
Another giant with a million-plus Facebook fans, Coca-Cola has a fan-centric Facebook page. It encourages active user participation and interaction between the brand and its fans. The landing tab is set to the Coca-Cola introduction, which contains a dynamic box with latest updates and a “Like” button, links to other social network profiles for the brand, a fan highlights strip, and info about the product and the page’s creators (by the way, this Facebook page was created by two Coke fans and then later supported officially by the company). Another highlight of the Coke fan page is photo albums: in addition to some standard product shots and event photographs, many other albums are included, presenting Coca-Cola not only as a popular beverage but as a multi-generational icon. Here is a good example of how to make use of photos on Facebook.
The default tab for the official fan page of the blockbuster series Twilight Saga is a large graphical tab promoting the latest episode, Eclipse. The custom tab incorporates elements of the movie’s website and the trailer, live Twitter updates, links to official websites and other info. Two other custom tabs are dedicated to the second film, New Moon, and the official movie soundtrack. The entire page is rich in content and delivers its information effectively.
More Beautiful and Engaging Facebook Pages
A nice approach to the Facebook welcome page is demonstrated by social media agency Room 214, based in Boulder, Colorado. The default tab, with its nice duo-tone and sketchy font, looks minimalist and attractive, and it focuses on introducing its team members. The “About” tab has a clean two-column layout, with some basic info about the company in the left column and cute roll-over links to the staff’s Twitter accounts, official website, blog, contact page and corporate Twitter page. Another graphic tab covers the agency’s clients. A simple yet well-executed fan page design.
The ColorStyler tab on the fan page for Porsche is so darn great that one immediately wonders why on Earth they didn’t make it the default tab? The pure FBJS tab allows users to select a Porsche model and customize its look in a live preview mode, with a nifty color and rims picker. One then can send the Porsche image to a friend or publish it on the page’s wall. This hidden gem makes the entire page shine.
The fan page for Digital Turf is an interesting and rather confusing case. The page design itself is wonderful: the excellent company presentation, two-level sub-navigation, diverse data and cute style is a feat of FBJS and makes this one of the most attractive business pages you’ll see on Facebook. Here’s the confusing part: Digital Turf specializes in developing Web-building and media solutions for political campaigns and organizations (maybe not exclusively, but that does figure prominently in its list of services). The question is whether this design style communicates the company’s strengths well enough to attract its target audience. If it solved this concern, Digital Turf could turn its fan page, which is awesome as it is, into a Facebook promo bomb.
The main tab of the Revision Eyewear fan page features an impressive Flash intro, with bold photographs and transitions and a dynamic “Become a Fan” link. The eye-wear manufacturer also uses Facebook for its charity work; a custom graphic tab on the page explains its causes and displays donation links (the “Become a Fan” button turns into a donation button–very clever).
Thurston & Betts PLLC
The Facebook page for law firm Thurston & Betts is notable for its “Like Us!” tab. A simple informational scheme in the center, with nice roll-over buttons leading to the company’s website, is a clever solution: neat yet substantial. The tab also includes the firm’s main contact info and a map of its location. It’s difficult to imagine a better Facebook page design for a law consultancy.
The fan page of Miami-based Web design studio Daddy Design includes two custom tabs: “About” and “Portfolio.” Both tabs use the page’s entire width, which, along with the striking orange color scheme, makes this page hard to pass by. The business page is tied closely to the company’s official website design, and it highlights a neat FBJS portfolio, with links to Daddy Design’s social profiles. It actually creates the feeling of a website within the Facebook page. Great work.
In our opinion, this is one of the best uses of a Facebook business page for e-commerce. By becoming a fan of 1-800-Flowers on Facebook, you can access up-to-date content, send virtual gifts to friends and shop for flowers right on Facebook (via the Flash-based application Alvenda). The company’s “Welcome” page has a simple and attractive grid, consisting of four sections that engage visitors with various activities. Also, the cool promo code field offers a discount to anyone who hits the “Like” button.
The Game — Team A
The Game, for the Sony PS3, has two beautiful fan pages on Facebook, dedicated to each of the two teams in the game. The two pages have a similar design, featuring beautiful graphical tabs (and especially fine typefaces) that link to the interactive Facebook applications. The “About” tab includes an interactive worldwide game stats map, which is a nice touch.
Oxelo’s fan page would be rather generic if not for the inventive Diabolo Roller tab, which promotes its new model of roller blades. Built with a Flash app, it allows a nifty 360-degree view of the product.
Teesey Tees use its Facebook presence effectively: it partially implements an e-commerce element from its website that allows Facebook users to browse t-shirt designs in a sleek FBJS gallery, directing them to the regular store for purchases. The fan page also includes a blog and a charming fan-only tab containing a discount code. There is no “About” or “Welcome” tab, and the default tab is set not to the product gallery (which one would expect) but to the Wall. While this is normal for big brands, it’s not so clear why a company with a smaller audience, such as Teesey Tees, would do this. Still, this is an attractive and well-executed fan page.
Popular t-shirt producer Threadless takes the e-commerce on its Facebook fan page to the next level. Here, the native Facebook tee design gallery is supplemented by a size-selection menu and shopping cart buttons, which direct the user to the cart on Threadless’ website. The customer review section, with its “Share” and “Like” buttons, enhance the shopping experience of this fan page. Threadless also makes good use of the video and photos tabs, which, along with the live webcast section and active discussion board, make for an engaging, community-oriented Facebook presence.
Mark Meyer Photography
Mark Meyer’s business page is a good example of how to promote one’s personal brand effectively on Facebook. Using FBML and FMJS, the Alaska-based photographer outfits his custom tab with sub-tabs for his blog and photo gallery and an exquisite image slideshow. Status updates are also cleverly done, so that the Wall (the default tab) takes on the appearance of a photoblog.
The “Buy Now” tab on the Livescribe Smartpen fan page has an Amazon-ish design: it’s rich in content and options, but may require the touch of someone like Jacob Nielsen to be truly usable. Livescribe effectively uses multimedia on its Facebook page, which certainly presents its product favorably and is good for fan interaction on the page. But we would suggest that the company rearrange the position of its tabs, putting some interesting sections (such as the Pencasts, which are animated Flash videos of handwritten notes and audio captured by the Smartpen) in the main bar, instead of, say, the standard “Boxes” tab.
The highlight of Bodum’s Facebook business page is its excellent use of an iFrame to embed the company’s online store and interactive catalogue, which is powered by iPaper, onto the Facebook profile. In other words, Facebook users can shop for Bodum products without leaving the page.
Soul City Church
The “Welcome” tab of the Soul City Church Facebook page is by far the smoothest pearl in our collection of fan page designs. The clean layout, the neat typography and icons and, of course, the awesome combination of black-and-white photography and energetic green elements result in a stunning intro page. It portrays the church as a progressive and contemporary community. Credit for the great job goes to Monster Eyes.
Famous apparel brand Diesel has three out-of-the-mold tabs, the most noteworthy of which is the one labelled “Sex Sells.” It is built on a Flash app and provides a stylish and original showcase for the denim collection of the same name.
This one will appeal to those who admire good typography. The “About” section of Lancome Germany’s Facebook page takes on a website-within-a-tab format. It features elegant and polished typography, accompanied by high-quality photography.
The Facebook business page for Eco-Artware.com features a nice FBJS “Shop” tab. It’s a pseudo-shop, though; in fact, it’s just a featured product gallery, in which both product thumbnails and catalogue categories are linked to the official online store. Nevertheless, the clean grid layout and nice roll-overs for the product images make this a beautiful and useful fan page tab. Eco-Artware.com also makes good use of the “Boxes” tab by setting it as the default.
The official Facebook page of music band 311, particularly the “News & Multimedia” tab, is eye candy. Designed in a cool retro poster style, it contains basic info about the band and a built-in multimedia player. A large “Fan Photos” section reflects the band’s commitment to communicating with its fans. Well done!
Outdoor gear and clothing provider REI uses its Facebook profile to foster strong interactivity, rather than merely to present a plain front. Its fan page is basically a community portal where the company engages people with its social campaigns and projects. The fan page includes two Flash tabs that feature community pictures, links and fun family games.
The fan page for Spanish apparel brand Desigual is bursting with color, freshness and style. It is versatile, with various types of promotional and entertaining content, yet not overwhelming. The mood is set equally by great content and classy design elements. Desigual points out that the page was started by fans and then made official by the brand; this is clearly illustrated on the Wall feed, where user-created updates are set to default along with the company’s messages.
Currently featuring its soccer fan campaign, VW shows amazing use of FBJS on its page. Rich in content, up to date, well designed and heavily supportive of user-created content, this is the best Facebook business page that a popular automotive brand could have.
The fan page of cosmetics manufacturer Living Proof is all about interactivity and dialogue between the company and its customers. Chief among its many features is the dynamic Flash introductory tab, containing basic info about the company,a lab tour,a mini blog, links to customer support services and a corporate Twitter feed. The business page also includes an interactive app that helps customers choose the most suitable products.
Inspired Magazine is one of the few Web design blogs that have customized their Facebook fan page. No fancy applications or high-volume presentations here; a minimalist FBML tab is quite enough to grab the attention of a random Facebooker and give them reasons to “Like” the page.
Current Sony Ericsson promotions are presented via beautifully designed tabs, with videos, contest forms and interactive applications inside.
Resources And Tutorials
Here is a list of websites and tutorials to help you understand the basics of developing and promoting your Facebook business page.
This is the ultimate resource for anyone who wants to take advantage of the variety of opportunities offered by Facebook. Related documentation, forum discussions, wikis and a showcase of best practices for Facebook integration are all aggregated in one place for both beginners and advanced developers.
A lot of excellent tutorials related to Facebook fan page development can be found in the Static FBML & FBML archive on the Hyperarts Blog. The tutorials are geared to both beginners and advanced developers. The blog also features a series of video tutorials, which we’re sure will come in handy for many of you. Some of the most interesting tutorials from Hyperarts are highlighted below.
On the unofficial Facebook Blog, you will find news, articles, tips and stats related to the world’s fastest-growing social network. An extensive guide titled How to Develop a Facebook Page That Attracts Millions of Fans addresses its subject well.
How to Use Facebook for Business and Marketing
This guide takes a look at the potential of Facebook for business and reviews the various options business owners have in order to be effective with Facebook business marketing. Recommended reading.
How to Create a Facebook FBML Template
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a Facebook fan page in Photoshop. It uses a page for a photographer as an example. This is the first in a series; the second lesson covers the coding part. The source files, including the code, are available for download.
Facebook Programming step-by-step tutorial
This tutorial series consists of 22 lessons and covers all aspects of Facebook programming, including application development, displaying fan-only content and creating an interface for a Facebook page.
Static FBML: Not Every Facebook Fan Page Needs an Application
In this tutorial the well-known blogger Alison Gianotto walks you through what a Static FBML is and why it’s sometimes quite enough to create an attractive and efficient Facebook fan page.
Extending Facebook Static FBML Tabs with Dynamic Content
Continuing from the previous guide, this tutorial explains how to add some spice to your Facebook fan page using the DynamicFBML function. You can build an image or video gallery or even a micro-site inside a Static FBML tab quite easily.
Learn how to create sub-nav tab navigation within your Static FBML microsite using only DynamicFBML.
Creating a Custom Facebook Page
This useful guide gives you a head start on building your own fan page on Facebook. The tutorial includes such basics as Facebook page creation, restrictions on Facebook, creating tabs and displaying navigation and content elements using FBML and FBJS.
Google Analytics for Facebook Fan Pages
How To: Build a Facebook Landing Page for Your Business
This is Mashable’s brief guide on how to add and configure a Static FBML tab on your Facebook fan page.
Internet Explorer and Static FBML: Using External Style Sheets for CSS
This insightful article discusses aspects of applying CSS styles to your Static FBML application in Internet Explorer versions and other browsers. The post includes an important update that takes into account changes in Facebook’s API that affect the implementation of CSS styles in static tabs.
8 Essential Apps for Your Brand’s Facebook Page
This article suggests a number of Facebook apps you could use to attract fans to your brand’s landing page and to make them return repeatedly.
Add a Custom Tab to Your Facebook Fan Page (Starter Template Included)
Like some of the aforementioned tutorials, this one teaches you how to embed a custom tab in your Facebook fan page. But this tutorial is a bit more detailed than previous ones, explaining how to build HTML and CSS that adheres to the new 520-pixel width requirements set by Facebook, how to add a YouTube video and how to avoid using iFrames. Also, it contains a starter template code with comments.
Facebook Best Practices for Non-Profit Organizations
This Facebook fan page guide is written by Diosa Communications, a company that specializes in social-media consulting for non-profit institutions and small businesses. It’s not exactly a list of best practices in the traditional sense, but rather a number of recommendations on how to set up and promote a fan page to the best effect.
How To Create the Perfect Facebook Fan Page
Some tips you can apply to your Facebook marketing strategy that will put your Facebook Page leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Adding iFrames to Your Facebook Applications: 2010
Recent modifications in Facebook’s API further restricted the use of iFrames. For instance, you can’t embed one in Static FBML anymore. iFrames can still be used in the Canvas Pages application, though, which is the topic of this tutorial.
Developing a Facebook Application for Absolute Beginners
Applications have proven to be an essential component of successful Facebook fan pages. They’re an effective tool for enhancing interactivity and engaging users. Fortunately, creating a Facebook application is not that difficult. Learn how to do it by reading this thorough tutorial by Emanuele Feronato.
Not many galleries of Facebook pages exist yet. Still, the ones that do give us a pretty good idea of trends in this area.
This gallery is rarely updated, but it features some really cool Facebook page designs that we haven’t seen in other showcases.
Custom Facebook Page gallery
Custom Facebook Page is run by the social media marketing group North Social. The gallery contains over 60 Facebook page designs, sorted into several categories. The most recent showcase is dated December 2009.
Facebook Showcase is the most frequently updated gallery of the ones covered here. A lot of inspirational Facebook page designs can be found here.
Facebook Platform Showcase
This showcase is slightly different. Here you can explore how companies around the world integrate Facebook on their websites.
Customize Your Facebook Fan Page: Tips, Tricks, Applications
A quick overview of basic tips and tricks for customizing and improving your Facebook fan page.
Facebook Fan Page Templates
Many freelance designers and design studios offer customization services for Facebook pages. Standalone fan page templates are less widespread, at least so far. To provide you with the best possible starter kit, we’ve collected Facebook business page themes that you can get either free or at a cost.
Free PSD Facebook Template | Preview | Details
This 520-pixel Photoshop layout of Facebook fan page tab is available for free downloading. If you are looking for a simple graphical presentation for your Facebook page, this template may come in handy.
Absolutely Free Cool Facebook Template | Preview| Details
This graphic FBML template, along with the PSD file, fonts and HTML mark-up, is available for free downloading. The package also includes an installation manual.
Facebook Template Page | Details
This is quite a different Facebook page template. Basically, it’s a worksheet available in text and PDF formats, allowing school students to construct a Facebook page for a character from a story or some other purpose. The template has been downloaded over 10,000 times and has gotten a lot of positive feedback because it is a new and exciting way for students to comment on their readings. You have to register to download the template.
Photographer Facebook Template | Preview | Details | All FB templates
A sleek graphical FBML tab, with an image gallery, text sections, social networking buttons and a reminder to “Like” the page. The template package consists of source files and the Facebook installation guide. Price: $15.
Corporation Number 1: Facebook Tab | Preview | Details | All FB Templates
A minimalist Facebook page theme, with space for one main image, the company’s logo or tagline, two paragraphs of text and links to social media resources, including an optional RSS feed. The user can also add images, contact forms, videos and other elements to the template (no coding skills are required). Price: there are two subscription plans to choose from, although only one of them (Standard) is active at the moment — $14.99 per month. Free trial option is available, too.
My Style Facebook Flash Template | Preview | Details | All FB Templates
Among the highlights of this Flash-based FBML template are diverse transitions, multi-tab sub-navigation and a large image gallery in the tab header (760 pixels in width, of course). Instructions on how to upload the template are attached; and the developer offers additional customization services. Price: $18.
Website Image Gallery Template | Preview | Details | All FB Templates
This FBML template features a FBJS image gallery, horizontal top menu navigation, social networking links and side images. The website does not mention whether installation documentation is provided; perhaps it is provided upon purchase. Price: $20.
Facebook Flash Template | Preview | Details
This is another version of the Flash-based “Welcome” tab for Facebook fan pages. It’s actually a mini-site, 520 pixels in width, with three sub-pages, including a slideshow and image gallery. It comes with step-by-step instructions on setting it up on Facebook. Price: $13.
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