A Facebook fan page requires constant care and feeding. Many publications simply post links to articles on their Wall page, failing to take advantage of Facebook's "social" component. (You know who you are.)
Thankfully, there are plenty of Facebook apps emerging that can help a media company keep its Facebook presence fresh, increase the reach of its content, and drive fans to its website and other channels.
Four examples of publisher fan pages that are making good use of third-party apps:
Wired (78,165 fans as of this writing)
Smashing Magazine (12,838 fans)
Us Weekly (289,209 fans)
The Economist (240,744 fans)
Many of these apps come from Involver, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a dozen or so free apps (including RSS, Twitter and PDF tabs that you can add to your fan page with a few clicks) plus another half-dozen premium apps (including a music player, embedded Flash, and custom tabs) that require an annual licensing and service plan.
The goal is to give brands more options for engaging their Facebook fans and promoting their content – without a lot of heavy development work.
“You don’t need to do your own custom apps or reinvent the wheel,” says Tyler Willis, Involver’s head of brand strategy. “We provide a way to help companies carry their brand equity into social environments.”
Among its premium services, Involver offers a management console that lets you automate tasks (such as how many news articles from your RSS feed are posted on your wall), analyze user activity (number of comments, number of likes, etc.), and manage content syndication across Facebook, Twitter and iPhones.
Involver is also working on a new platform that Willis says will address the challenges media companies and other brands face with publishing, managing and tracking content across multiple social channels. Without disclosing details, he said to expect an announcement early next month.
There is one important caveat to keep in mind when considering apps for your Facebook fan page: Don’t add so many that you can’t stay on top of them.
Wired’s page, for example, has two tabs that are suffering from neglect: a Contests tab, currently unpopulated, and “This Day in Tech,” which provides links to Wired.com’s series looking at notable moments in high-tech history. The last post is from April 27, 2009.