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Static FBML: As long as you keep your cheat sheet handy, it’s easy!

When I first heard about using Static FBML to add custom content to Facebook pages, I was eager to get started customizing our clients’ pages — but, I stopped in my tracks when I thought, oh, great, another markup language to learn! Couldn’t they have just used HTML somehow? 

But there was good news … with the Static FBML application, all you really do need to know is HTML — that is, after you have figured out how to get the application working on your page, which is anything but an intuitive process.

For whatever reason, Static FBML works a bit differently than other Facebook applications and settings, and if you don’t keep the steps at your fingertips to remind you how to work it, you’ll go mildly bonkers.  I found a great tutorial on Social Web School  — I suggest you visit it and bookmark it.

Alternatively, here’s a quick overview:

(1)  First, install the Static FBML application — use the search box to find it, choose “install on my page,” then click the page you’re interested in customizing.  (Be sure you’re an administrator of the page you have in mind before you start.)

(2)  ‘Add’ the application using the + on your page.  (After you add it, ignore the pencil — which doesn’t help you edit the page.  Confusing, I know!)  Instead, go back to the page’s wall and select “edit this page” on the left side.  Scroll down until you see Static FBML listed near the bottom.

(3)  From here you can add the HTML you want to appear on the site, as well as edit the title of the box.  (To see samples of some very basic customizations we’ve done, visit Sterling Pacific Financial’s page (see the white paper promo on the left side) and Saint Mary’s College Women in Philanthropy (the “give” banner).)

(4)  After you create your content, you need to move it to a box to allow it to display (until you do so, it will appear only in the “boxes” tab).  Go to the boxes tab, click the pencil near your new box and choose “move to wall.”

This should be enough to get you started.  For a more comprehensive tutorial (with pix and comments), visit Social Web School:

Social Web School – FBML Tutorial

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