Most apps on Facebook are about ongoing commitment; they are driven by a need to maintain attention and bringing back visitors. ShortStack, an increasingly popular Facebook App, takes such factors into consideration, but also places emphasis on getting people there in the first place. A visual enhancement and marketing tool, ShortStack helps you build campaigns and design Facebook pages, assembling just the right colors, images, and catch-phrases to draw in customers and turn them onto your playing field. Let’s take a look.

The Details

Leveraging the social arena is turning into a great emphasis for enterprise online marketing, as young guns invented the game and now Corporate America must adhere to the rules. Furthermore, websites are becoming a little passé these days, as a company can do so much more with its social pages. Accordingly, this week we look at a Facebook app called ShortStack, which helps small businesses to strategically design their Facebook pages, so that they function and appear much the same as a website. According to research done by the app’s developers, most companies use social media over all other online platforms to manage customer interaction, the numbers coming in at 79.7 percent utilizing social sites over 49.1 percent on websites.

Editor's Note: Check out our new column focused on Facebook Apps for Business

Though there are some similar design functions, one major difference between the more traditional online forum and a social network is that the former is all about you, whereas a platform like Facebook is about you and everyone else. In the latter case, it’s really easy for a user to become distracted and drawn elsewhere, so the key to design is focus and energy. 

With Shortstack, you can create custom Facebook tabs using available templates, or make ones of your own. There’s also a series of widgets accessible to insert photos, Twitter feeds, blogs, and videos. Additionally, the app enables you to implement contests and other marketing campaigns onto your tabs.

Screen Shot 2012-02-20 at 3.09.58 PM.png

And while there are certainly consultants out there ready to do this for you and charge you a good amount for their service, ShortStack enables businesses to manage their Facebook pages all by themselves in a time-saving, efficient manner. Want to run campaigns? No problem, create a tab. Have a few Facebook pages to manage at once? Perfect, the app is set up to de-complicate the process. No budget? Also not a problem as the subscription-based tool comes with a free edition along with other options, the most popular being a mere US$ 30 a month.

Hiring a contractor, thus, becomes unnecessary when everything’s at your disposal.

Explains the company,

Social networking thrives on the elements of user interaction, engagement, and involvement. Videos, blog posts, newsletters, shared links, status updates, photos, and replies to user comments all draw the attention of Facebook users and transforms them into loyal customers and permanent clients."

Once in place, ShortStack provides various management devices, which help you keep track of everything. The Tab Designer comes first, fostering the design process. If you want to create a series of tabs, say one to host daily deals, another for general information, and a third, fan-focused forum, the Tab Manager helps you to organize and control your user base. Lastly, there’s Media Manager, which keeps your photos, media files and other assets in one spot. You can sort via tags, or you can file it by client.

Screen Shot 2012-02-20 at 3.22.52 PM.png

Screen Shot 2012-02-20 at 3.23.12 PM.png

Screen Shot 2012-02-20 at 3.24.08 PM.png

Other Highlights include:

  • A single account manages hundreds of clients
  • Collect user data with custom forms
  • Content scheduling to focus on fans
  • Design tools to customize every aspect of your tab
  • Custom forms, promotions, contests & sweepstakes
  • Virtual gifts, iFrames, eCommerce
  • Quick Publish and Custom Publish options

Connecting the Dots

Also key to a successful Facebook platform: integration. ShortStack empowers you to tie everything together onto your network, extracting YouTube videos and playlists, display feeds from Foursquare and Flickr, newsletter signups, and even third party assimilation. You can add pop-up triggers and link to other tabs “by creating clickable hotspots that lead to external URLs,” and to keep it current, the app’s RSS Widget constantly refreshes the page.

Compared to traditional marketing budgets, the price for ShortStack is pocket change. At no charge, the app provides 2,000 likes a month, maintenance on an unlimited number of pages, and a few special features. Upgrade to US$ 15 a month, you get 25,000 likes per account, maintenance on one page, and most of the special features. The most popular deal, US$ 30 month offers 25,000 likes per account, maintenance on unlimited pages, and all features. The price scale increases afterwards by the number of likes you want, and while there’s no free trial, the free version is a simple replacement.

The Verdict

It’s pretty cool, but doesn’t initially seem that revolutionary a concept. I had to wonder whether there weren’t already a slew of others doing the same thing. From what I found, MyInfo helps out personal users and iFrame apps consolidate various forms of media. TabPress assists amateurs in publishing their pages. In truth, few were as all-encompassing as ShortStack. Without knowing how effective the end results are however, it's hard to tell whether it would be more beneficial to use other apps specifically tailored for certain aspects of the process, such as sweepstakes creations.

ShortStack could focus more on the design functions, as that seems to be its specialty, yet I found the template process a bit confusing, and the options limited. The best feature, in my opinion, is the ability to manage everything all at once.

Overall, I’d give ShortStack a B.