For businesses, Facebook is an amazing marketing platform. It's surprising that more businesses don't use all of the free tools that are available.
Here's a look at some of my favorite free tools on Facebook. File this one under "Favorite apps for 2012" because Facebook is always adding new features so who knows what will make the list for 2013.
• The App Center. The app center is basically a directory of cool apps. For instance, if you want a music player, you can find more than a dozen (Spotify isn't the only FB music player). There are shopping and map apps, an app called Zimride that will help you arrange for carpooling, lots of travel apps and even horoscope apps. Basically the App Center allows you to add all sorts of utility to your Facebook Page. If you have an idea for an app, you can even submit an, ahem, application for Facebook approval to make it available in the App Center.
• Developers. If you're a developer who is using ShortStack and customizing your apps, you have become a Facebook Developer. Using Facebook through the developer section allows you to monitor insights, check on negative feedback, check usage and adjust settings. It's basically a data center for developers.
• Ads Manager. Facebook allows businesses to target their market for ads right down to the age of the viewer and his or her job title. It's also very cost effective. If you've never advertised on Facebook, it's worth a try. You can give yourself a budget of just a few dollars a day and see if it increases Likes or drives traffic to your website.
• Video Calling. Did you know that Facebook has teamed up with Skype to brings its users Video Calling? Since everyone is already on Facebook, it just makes it easy to reach out to your friends/contacts when you see that they are online. All you have to so is go through a quick-set up process and then look for this icon on your Timeline and you're....dialed in.
• Facebook Questions. Businesses seriously underuse this feature. It's part of the status update bar, and it's a great way to get feedback from your customers about services or products they'd like you to add to your offerings. For example, you could say; "We're designing a line of t-shirts. Do you like red or green better? The other cool thing about Questions is that with this sort of post your friends/fans answer it, their friends also see the response so more people are ultimately exposed to your business or brand. It's also just fun: You can ask people to tell you their favorite song or nail polish color or breakfast food or...well, you get the idea. The bottom line is that Facebook Questions are one more way to get great data from your users and give you a better Facebook experience.
• Facebook Insights. This is another one that is underused by businesses. But if you don't go through your data on a regular basis, how can you know if your Facebook marketing efforts are working? You can study Insights and see which kinds of posts have the most engagement, which ones seem to lead to an increase in Likes, which ones get shared the most, etc. The bottom line: All the information that you scrape from Insights will help you and your users have a better Facebook experience.