News Sites Not Making Much Use of Static FBML on Facebook Pages

Between privacy issues, a sweaty CEO and technical problems with its “Like” buttons Facebook is having a rough time lately. But Facebook Pages remain a key audience development and content promotion opportunity for publishers so it is important to make the most of them. A good way to enhance Facebook Pages is by using Static FBML to customize tabs for an improved visual experience and greater functionality.

I have seen plenty of blog posts and conference presentations on how to utilize Static FBML but I rarely see news sites highlighted among the examples of good usage. So I thought I’d take a look at a selection of news organizations to see how many are taking advantage of FBML.

The short answer? Not so many. I revisited the 25 pages covered in Which News Sites Have the Most Valuable Facebook Pages? and found that the majority are making little or no use of Static FBML. There are a handful of examples however that are worth pointing out.

The Economist

The Economist has multiple customized tabs for subscription, featured articles and a news quiz:

The Economist - Facebook subscribe tab

The Economist - Facebook articles tab

The Economist - Facebook Well-red quiz

Fox News

Fox News offers a more visual and interactive experience through its “Fun Stuff” tab:

Fox News - Facebook welcome tab

Fox News - Facebook Fun Stuff Page

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune uses a welcome tab to highlight sections and features from its main site:

Chicago Tribune - Facebook welcome tab

Yahoo! News

Compare the Fox News and Chicago Tribune tabs to Yahoo! News‘ welcome tab, which could certainly use a bit more pizzazz:

Yahoo News - Facebook welcome tab

To be fair Yahoo! News is just using the welcome tab to establish some rules of conduct. But I think there is a middle ground between the Fox News and Yahoo! News tabs that would work well for most organizations.

The New York Times

I did not see any custom tabs on The New York Times page this week but in the past they have added them for major events such as the Winter Olympics:

The New York Times - Facebook Olympics tab

Newsweek and Time

In going through the Facebook Pages I also noticed that several organizations are utilizing professional applications from Involver for things like Twitter and news feed integration, as seen in these examples from Newsweek and Time:

Newsweek - Facebook Twitter tab from Involver

Time - Facebook news tab from Involver

I don’t know much about Involver but it looks like they offer some good options for companies that prefer to outsource.

So the bottom line is that news organizations are dabbling with Static FBML on their Facebook Pages but few are doing anything that is noteworthy. Much of what I came across will not be particularly compelling to users or do much to drive repeat visits.

News sites have a big advantage over other companies on Facebook because they regularly produce breaking news and other forms of quality content that can be featured on their pages and placed in user news feeds. So perhaps they have less of a need to add extra bells and whistles. But the average Facebook user is only going to “Like” so many news pages so it is important to offer a strong user experience and stand out from the competition.

For more information on using Static FBML check out:

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