Since then, our app has been working great on our own Facebook Page, however, I did notice some buggy behavior when trying to share the app with other Pages. But, it appears that Facebook has worked out the kinks with sharing iframe tab apps, so I thought I’d talk a bit now about that process.
Adding and Sharing Facebook Apps
If you have a Facebook account, I’m wagering that at least 99.99% of you have added some type of app to your personal Facebook account and Profile (i.e., Twitter, Foursquare, Farmville, Dogbook, quizzes, polls, etc.). And if you manage a business or organizational Facebook Page, you have probably done the same with your Page (i.e., Twitter, RSS, YouTube, etc.). If you haven’t integrated some type of app with your Facebook Page yet, then you are definitely missing out on the ability to customize your Page.
What I find particularly cool about Facebook’s new “app” approach for creating custom iframe tabs, is that like all other Facebook apps, customized Page tabs (aka “iframe tab apps”) can now be shared among Facebook Pages — instead of just being applied to a single Facebook Page. If your custom iframe tab is an actual app with its own Application Profile Page, then other Facebook Pages can simply choose “Add to My Page” to incorporate your custom content or tools.
Why Share Our Libary Chat App?
Allowing other Facebook Pages to add apps for poplar services and tools like YouTube, Twitter, RSS, etc., probably makes a lot of sense to you. But, you might be wondering, why the heck should I care about letting other Facebook Pages add our library chat app to their own Facebook Page? And why the heck would other Facebook pages even want to add our chat app?
- Does your library, like my own Pollak Library, serve a campus community?
- Does your library system maintain separate Facebook Pages for individual library branches?
- Do any of your faculty use Facebook Pages for their classes?
- Does your library maintain Facebook Pages for specific patrons groups, such as Young Adults?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should allow and encourage other Facebook Pages to add your library chat app.
Pros and Cons of Sharing Your Chat App
If you take the full-blown Facebook Developer App approach, like I did, to integrate your library chat service within your Facebook Page, then your chat app automatically becomes “sharable” and a part of the Facebook Apps gallery.
When an App is contributed to the Facebook Apps gallery, that app becomes accessible to everyone. App developers can’t limit the app and allow only certain Facebook Pages to add it.
This means, in theory, that any Facebook Page out there could add your library’s chat reference service to their own Facebook Page. But, realistically, how many unaffiliated Facebook Pages are really going to want to do that? And besides, if your library provides chat-based reference service and promotes it on your website, you are already making that service accessible to people outside of your official patron base (the broader public).
What are the advantages to taking the official Developer App approach to integrating your chat reference service with Facebook Pages?
You can allow affiliated Facebook Pages to re-purpose your content and tools with minimal effort. Your library increases its chances of reaching new patrons and making them aware of this valuable service. Your library can reinforce its role and value to affiliated groups within your campus community by partnering with them to help patrons who follow Facebook Pages published by other campus organizations. And your library will be taking yet another step to reach out to patrons on their own terms, using a virtual “place” they already frequent, to reinforce a sense of online community.
So, if you haven’t already set up an official Facebook app for your chat reference service, I encourage you to do so. I’ve documented the process if you use LibraryHelp, and I’m still trying to help a couple colleagues who are running into problems with this integration (I’ll post those solutions when we find them).
As for me? I’ve already taken the “develop” and “allow” steps. So, now I’m focusing on encouraging other Facebook Page administrators within our campus community to include our CSUF Librarian tab on their own Facebook Pages. And I’m testing out a few more cool apps to post about later.