There’s a new trend emerging in the way brands approach their social media content. Previously, if a brand wanted to create an app for a website or social network, the app had to be designed specifically for that location. That meant lots of content duplication and extra time and expense. Today brands can have all that same great content in a central place, and distribute it across multiple channels using embeddable apps and microsites.
Embedded apps are just like the apps you install to your Facebook Page: they’re robust and multi-functional, but they can be installed across the web. Microsites are basically the same as an embeddable app, but hosted away from the brand’s main website and social media presence.
Here are eight ways to use embeddable apps and microsites to your advantage.
1. Everything in One Place
Embedded apps are usually displayed via IFrames, and can be installed to your brand’s Facebook Page, main website, blog and more. From contests to videos to newsletter sign-up forms, these apps can contain a number of functions and do just about anything.
With embedding, you create the app just once, and display it anywhere you’d like. The content is identical regardless of where it's placed.
Caption: Rue 21’s app features videos, a signup link, a gallery of new arrivals, and even some content specifically for Facebook Fans.
2. One Place Everywhere
The alternative to creating one app and placing it all around the web is the microsite. Microsites stay in one place and serve as the central interaction and collection hub of your campaign. Say, for example, you’re running a contest on a microsite. You can post, tweet and blog the URL, and send all your users to that microsite so they can enter the contest.
3. Keep Attention
Embedded apps and microsites keep your users looking at your content longer. It’s better to have an app with videos that show your product’s reviews, instructions and uses rather than linking to those videos on YouTube where your users could be easily distracted by other content.
Similarly, a banner on your blog linking readers to a newsletter signup form on a microsite will keep your readers on your blog longer. Since microsites are free of distractions and features found on a full-fledged website, the reader can go back to browsing your articles once they’re done filling out the form.
Caption: Amy Porterfield’s app has several self-contained features, which keeps the user’s attention focused on the app itself.
4. Meet People Wherever They Are
Not everyone is on Facebook, not everyone uses Twitter, and not everyone visits Pinterest. In fact there’s lots of people who actively try to avoid social media sites because of their perceived drain on productivity, simple preference not to get involved, or they may even be blocked while they’re at work!
These people are still your customers, they may still visit your website and read your blog and they still get excited to enter your contests, hear the latest breaking news and check out your videos. You can reach them with embedded apps and microsites that include entry and sign up forms, special offers and interactive content.
5. Platform Agnosticism
If you post a link to your fan-gated Facebook promotion on your blog, your readers who don’t have Facebook profiles won’t be able to get past the gate to enter. But if you create different versions of your app (in this case, with a fan gate and without), you can still gate what goes on Facebook, and then tweet and blog the ungated version.
Similarly, you can hide the URL to your microsite behind a gate on Facebook, and then simply link to the microsite from other sources, like your newsletters. This sort of platform agnosticism lets you embrace the features and functions of each platform, without making any of your users miss out.
6. Cost Efficiency
Chances are, you’re using a custom app platform to build your Facebook Page apps. Most reputable custom app platforms now have “external embed” features. Since these platforms have the tools you need to create the apps yourself and embed them wherever you’d like, you can potentially save money on website design and maintenance. And since you design and manage the apps, you always have full control. You may have to hire a web developer to code your microsite, but because microsites are so straightforward, they’re easy to code and easier to maintain.
7. Centralized Data Collection
If you’re running a photo contest embedded on a website, blog, social network or from a microsite, all that user-generated content and data can be funneled to the same database, even though you may be embedding that app in multiple places or linking to the contest from multiple sources. This means “centralized data location” eliminates the problem of having numerous entry boxes for contests hosted on separate platforms or networks, and streamlines how you evaluate and use that data.
No one can predict social media’s future. What’s hot today could be passé tomorrow. Embedded apps and microsites give you the flexibility to focus on the campaign itself and change with the times. Embedded apps give you the freedom to install them almost anywhere, or focus on the platforms that are most successful for your brand. Microsites give you even more freedom. No matter where the traffic is coming from, a single-function microsite will thrive as long as you plaster its URL where your user base is.
Editor's Note: To read more from Jim Belosic: