One thing I always admire about the bigger-name authors is their beautiful custom designs–Twitter backgrounds, websites, Facebook pages…things I didn’t think the averaged e-published author could afford.

I was SO wrong.
Let me tell you about the company ShortStack. They’re new, hip, and with it. The FREE version of the program would allow you endless ways to customize your Facebook fan page. And it’s fairly simple to use–just click and drag the elements you want added to a new tab (y’know those things along the left column under your picture? Those are the tab elements) and then connect your account to Facebook. POOF! You have a new tab! (For an example, look at Skylar Kade’s page–thought it’s on the edge of NSFW)
This is what the tab composer in ShortStack looks like. While I’m sure you’ll enjoy exploring on your own, I’d like to highlight ten elements of the program that you should know.

1. Your composition tabs: design (where you put the elements together), CSS (where, if you know this coding language, you can make your tabs look even more slick), and PUBLISH, where you apply the Facebook tab you’ve just created to your Facebook page. The image below shows the PUBLISH tab, and there are two very important things to change before you officially publish your page. First, change your tab name to something descriptive, like “Welcome”
or “Contest”, otherwise it will default to “Tab 1”. Second, if you want this to be the first thing that your visitor sees, you should change it to the “Default landing tab”.
2. Tab name: like I mentioned above in the Publish tab, also change the name here to match.
3. Add widgets: These are the different elements you can add to your page.
4. Basic tools: You can add elements for pictures, slideshows, text, links, and a shopping cart, though I primarily stick to the pictures and text (NOTE: there is also a text element at the bottom of the widget column; this is for HTML text. The top text element is more like a word processor that allows you to choose font, color, style, etc)
5. Promotions: from left to right, the widgets are Promotion, Voting, and Entry Count. Note that if you are running a promotion there’s extra work involved because you have to create the promotion information and entry form–but it’s well-worth it. What I prefer to do is create two tabs–a “Welcome” tab with basic information, and a link to my “Contest” tab. (NOTE: while you can’t create two tabs at a time, the free version of Short Stack does allow you multiple tabs)
6. MailChimp widget: Have a newsletter or thinking about sending one out? You can add a MailChimp sign-up widget to your Facebook tab. I love MailChimp as much as I love ShortStack–and it’s equally free.
7. Integrations: YouTube videos (for those book trailers), twitter streams, and RSS feeds–all can be added to your tab. To keep things from being crowded, consider creating an additional tab for your RSS and twitter feeds.
8. Forms and Promos: This is where you’ll be directed if you add the promotion widget (#5)
9. Edit Widgets: This is where you drop any element you want added to your tab. To rearrange their order, grab the top left corner and move the element. The pencil allows you to edit the widget–definitely explore all the options available to you there. The teal button at the bottom, “show titles and borders” is something I usually unclick. Otherwise, each widget will be boxed and titled on your Facebook page.
10. Live Preview: This is what your page will look like to a visitor. Note the three options: A key (what the page administrator would see), A thumbs up (what a fan would see) and a red-lined thumbs up (what a non-fan would see). If you look back to #9, each widget has these similar images below them so you can determine who sees what. This is useful for what is called “fan-gating,” where you show exclusive content only to your fans. So, for example, you could have a promotion widget that is set to fan-only (click the thumbs up at the bottom of the widget box) and a visitor would have to “like” your page before seeing the contest information. (NOTE: in place of the key, the Edit Widgets area uses two people to represent what EVERY visitor sees)
11. Status: This will show you whether your tab is Unpublished or Published.
I know this is sounds complicated, but play around with it–if there’s something you don’t like, you can always edit it.
Feel free to direct any questions at me (@caseylynnmms) or at Jim from Short Stack (@shortstacklab)–they’re really good about helping their customers.
Happy Fan Paging!

2 thoughts on “Wiley Wednesday—Custom Facebook Fan Pages

  1. What an informational post! Thank you for this.

  2. Nikki M says:

    So much great info! This will make it a lot easier to use Facebook as a personalized tool. Thank you!

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