When a service such as Facebook limits users’ creative freedom, it is inevitable that other add-on services will overcome this limitation. This is why then, we see more and more Facebook tab apps that give us more control and freedom when it comes to customizing a fan page or a personal profile.
I can’t really understand why Facebook doesn’t create an editor that lets users create a super fan page. I can only guess they don’t want to deal with it and prefer their uniform design, which may be boring but at least it is consistent and familiar. Instead, Facebook lets other people get creative and offer an array of Facebook related apps built on the API. In any case, you must know this by now: A personalized page can drive more attention and probably, more traffic to your brand.
I’ve written about this subject over, and over, and over again here at TechCrunch. In this post, I just want to give you a clear picture about the best services that are out there, by gathering all the information in one place so it’s easier to save and use as needed. (Also check out AppBistro for more Facebook tab apps and reviews).
Please note that starting today, if you own a page on Facebook, you will need to customize the page under your tab to a width of 520 pixels. The reason Facebook is changing the tab size is because they want to leave the left sidebar open when you navigate from one tab to another, which might make sense, but don’t you just feel like they are changing stuff constantly? It is really hard to follow and adjust to the new changes for everyone, which is not cool. Why would you constantly want to alienate your users?
But I digress. Here are the 12 best services for making Facebook page tabs:
Miproapps—The newest service around, Miproapps allows users to design a fan page by simply dragging & dropping elements to the center of the page. I found it to be one of the best services I’ve tried so far because it really is very easy to use, and it only took me a few minutes to create an interactive fan page.
How it works: You just need to log-in with Facebook Connect, then the service will recognize your existing pages. Pick one, and you can start working on the page: You have basic edits like choosing page colors, height, and background image. Then you can move to the advanced editor and drag widgets from the sidebar to your right, into the center of the page. It includes photo/file sharing, status updates, blogs, audio, contact form, and much more. Easily customize their settings, and your page will be ready in no time. You can always go back and change it any way you see fit. The results are quite good and look like a nice company start-page. But note, that there are lots of widgets to choose from, you might end up with a cluttered page.
Cost: 1 free page/ad supported. (more plans & prices)
Tabfusion is an ultimate tab suite for your fan page and profile. Unlike most of the services offered here, Tabfusion has an app for each tab you want to add. I believe that the Twitter tab is the most used one, and Tabfusion was the first to release this kind of tab. This is probably why it has more than 122,000 monthly active users alone. But there are many more tab apps to choose from and the integration is done in a flash.
How it works: You choose an app from here and authorize the application. You will get an-easy-to-use guide for each app after authorization.
Cost: Profile pages are free. (more plans & prices)
15 apps await you at NorthSocial, a service that can help to make your Facebook page look a lot better than it looks now. Their easy-to-use applications enable anyone to quickly create & manage a custom Facebook page. I didn’t like two things though. First is the fact that each service is individual so you can’t create a page that combines elements such as video and pictures. The other thing is that none of the plans offer you the ability to use the apps in all of your pages.
How it works: Each of the apps are installed onto a Facebook page as a new tab. Each “account” will authorize one Facebook page to install all 15 apps at one time. So you can pick which apps you want to install and they will add tabs to your selected page.
Cost: 14-day free trial. (plans & prices)
Static520 will give you the ultimate welcome page, there’s no question about it. In fact, it is almost like having a mini-site inside your Fan page. If you have a site, this might be too much for you. But if you don’t, and you have your own small business, and are looking for ways to market your brand, then Static520 is a very good place to start.
How it works: A user sign up for the service and adds their content to the massive editor. The next step is to add the static FBML app to the page you want to customize. After you set this up, all you need to do is to copy the Static520 code into the Static FBML app. Change the tab name, and you’re good to go.
Cost: Two weeks of free trial, $19/year. (fair price)
We wrote about Pagemodo recently and since then around 6,000 Pages have been installed. The editor is easy to understand and very pleasant to use. The problem however, might be the fact that Pagemodo creates a static page, which means only text and photos that are not really click-able. But I’ve heard that they are about to launch a new template that will allow you to add video as well, one that will play directly from the page. If you are not satisfied with it you could always try Miproapps for more interaction on the page.
Cost: One page is free. (more plans & prices)
TabSite is one of the few services that also allows you to create a Welcome tab on your personal Facebook account. So you don’t have to own a page to enjoy and utilize this feature or service.
How it works: Again, you log in through Facebook Connect, then you’ll need to sign up for the service, go through some email verification, and then you can create your own tab. The creation of the tab is done by a text editor similar to WORD, which should be really easy for users to understand. However, after trying other services, I found TabSite to be a bit old fashioned, and I really hated the picture uploader, but it might be that new users will appreciate this kind of experience. You can have one tab for each personal and fan page that you manage. You will be able to manage them all in one easy to use Content Manager area.
Cost: Free for personal profile tab. You’ll need to pay for anything else. (more plans & prices)
Involver probably has the biggest gallery of applications around. Similar to NorthSocial, you can add only one application under one tab (unless you get Involver to maintain the page for you). Anyway, you can enjoy some of the best apps for free. Apps like Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, RSS, and more, are available for download.
How it works: The implementation is easy. Click on your desired app, and Involver will find the pages you admin and will let you choose which page you want to customize. But it looks like this is only a small part of what Involver offers. I’ve seen them partner with Facebook on the Stories page, so they must have some other essential services under development that are probably worth watching out for.
Cost: Free, Pro, and Premium apps.
Static FBML is the pioneer app that lets you add advanced functionality to your Page. This application will add a box to your Page in which you can render HTML or FBML (Facebook Markup Language) for enhanced Page customization. The problem is that you’ll need to know some basic HTML code, or at least find other services to help you deal with the coding (like Flickr, for example), as mentioned in our first guide. Bottom line, this should be your choice if you have the skills for that. If not, I suggest that you try the other services. After all, they are all based on the same principles with the same end goal.
Shoptab is for anyone who wants to bring e-commerce to their Facebook page. The service will help you set up a mini-store under a shop tab on Facebook.
How it works: First, you’ll need to upload your products to the ShopTab interface (which is similar to Google Base). Add “Shop” tab to your Facebook fan page, which allows your fans to browse your products directly on Facebook. If a visitor/fan clicks on “Buy” a product at your page, it will take him to the product page at your site.
Cost: 7 days of free trial. (more plans & prices)
Clobby provides you with a way to chat with people from your own page within a simple-to-use chat tab that can be installed on any Facebook page: profile or fan. Your pages can become a platform for fans to chat, and invite more friends to join in. You’re thinking to yourself: oh, I have chat on Facebook, why would I need another one. Well, Clobby is also a collaborative Chat Room, meaning everyone can join and chat together, which is somewhat neat, somewhat annoying—your choice.
How it works: Click on this link, choose your setup page (profile or page), and simply follow the instructions.
Cost: completely free.
iLike music is perhaps the best known music tab on Facebook. The service has two apps: One for regular profiles, where everyone can list favorite music/artists, get personalized concert alerts, create and share playlists, and discover and share new music and free MP3s. The other app is for professional musicians, where they can upload their own music, and share their events, photos, videos, and blog posts.
Cost: both apps are free to use.
Unlike ‘Like’, RootMusic uses a SoundCloud connection to promote music over a musician’s fan page on Facebook. RootMusic also allows the page creator to design it the way it suits him/her. The results can lead to a great looking page that will stand apart from other pages in Facebook, which is why musicians should use it. The creation process is pretty easy, it just may take some time to add all the information about yourself (bio, gigs date, etc). All you need to do is to connect through Facebook, and RootMusic will guide you from there.
A new feature called YouTube Tracks is an uploader on the BandPage Editor where musicians can upload YouTube Tracks to their profile, which fans can then share with their friends across the web. As a musician, you can link your YouTube account to Adsense so you will start earning revenue from performance royalties every time a fan plays your track. (Demo)
Cost: Free or pay $1.99/month for pro features.
As I mentioned, on Facebook is changing the size of their pages to 520 pixels, which means that page owners (you) will need to customize pages yet again.
If you own a page on Facebook, created by yourself and it contains FBML tabs, I suggest you go and adjust it to the new customization rules. If you use one of the tools above, they will fix it themselves.
BTW, if you need some page design inspiration, you can check out this directory.