In my last blog post I looked at the different types of application services that are available for Facebook Fan Pages. Today, we are going to look at how to narrow down which service is right for you. After entering into the application selection process a few times, a standard set of very basic qualifying questions began to evolve. By answering these questions it made it easier to narrow down the vendor type.
Does the application you want built match current out of the box applications that you want to run once?
If you are just dipping your toe into the application waters to see what type of results you can get and are going with one of the out of the box concepts, then I would recommend going with an interactive campaign service. This type of provider will allow you to run a campaign, get data on the campaign, and let you see under the hood of what makes up an application. Most of these interactive campaign services have predesigned templates or they will give you the ability to design the look and feel of your application if you have some basic CSS knowledge.
Are you going to want to run this application or other out of the box applications for multiple pages or more than once? Do you have people on your team that can do basic CSS and design work?
For companies or marketers with multiple pages they need to maintain and want to run applications multiple times a partnership with a Facebook management platform would make the most sense. On a platform you can create and deploy multiple applications to different pages, reuse old designs, and get statistical tracking on the performance of your applications all through one interface.
Do you have anyone on your team that can do CSS?
If you don’t have the ability to design work, but want a very specific look and feel for your application, you can either find a freelance designer to do design and CSS work for an interactive campaign service, look at going with a custom developer, or ask if the interactive campaign service offers custom design work (some do, some don’t). The freelance CSS route will probably be more cost effective out of the three.
Do you have specific functionality that you want that is not on a current platform?
When you want to get into customized applications you are going to need to look for a company that will help build apps for you from scratch. Most interactive campaign services don’t offer custom builds, some platforms manufacturers do, and then you have custom shops. Custom applications will require a larger investment than out of the box applications and the shelf life might not be as long unless you have a relationship with the application manufacturer where they will perform updates to the code. (Facebook makes code changes just about every Tuesday and at some point on a custom application there will be an update that will impact the performance of your application.)
Obviously there are multiple questions beyond this that need to be asked, but I think this is a good starting point to narrow down which bucket you should research further.