A Fangate is a type of Facebook application that attempts to get people to become a fan of your Page in order to access a contest, coupon, giveaway, or any other promotion. Becoming a fan opens the gate to the special promotion, and people who like your Facebook Page can get your Facebook updates. Normally when one creates a Fangate app, they add it to their Facebook page, where it can be accessed through a link in the tabs of that page.
There is one issue here: No apps (mobile or not) are visible in the tabs of your Facebook page when viewed with a mobile device. And while Facebook recommends using their mobile app API, these mobile apps are still not available as tabs on your Facebook page when viewed with a mobile device, so this API might not be ideal for Fangates. We couldn’t find any examples of Fangates available to mobile users on Facebook at all.
How we do it
Our strategy has two parts: creating a Facebook link that we control, and using mobile detection to direct users to the right content based on the device they’re using.
First: Wherever we want to link to Facebook (ie. on our website, in our email signatures, in email blasts, etc.) instead of linking to Facebook directly, we send people to a URL where we then redirect visitors. This allows us to choose where to send them – to our contest on Facebook, our Fangate or just our Facebook page.
Second: Those who come to our URL using a mobile device can be sent to mobile friendly versions of our contests or Fangates that we create off Facebook, since mobile users cannot access those things directly on Facebook (they will get a 404 error). If we don’t have a contest running, we can instead redirect mobile users to our Facebook page.
Creating a Facebook Link
We have a page on our domain (kobayashi.ca/fb/) where we send people instead of linking directly to our Facebook page. This has many advantages:
- A typical Facebook page URL looks like this: https://www.Facebook.com/pages/Airplanes/110895915605785?ref=ts. Using your domain with “/fb/” at the end is shorter, simpler and easier to remember.
- You can use this link wherever you would link to your Facebook page: in email signatures, on your website, blog posts etc. Then, if your Facebook page URL changes (and there are valid reasons for that to happen), you don’t have to change all of those links, just change the redirect in this one place.
- You can decide to redirect your Facebook traffic to a contest when there is one, and redirect to the basic Facebook page, or Fangate when there isn’t a contest. Directing your Facebook traffic directly to a contest makes more sense than just sending someone to your Facebook page, and hoping they find the contest tab.
Simple Fangate and contest apps which use tabs are not available to mobile Facebook users. If someone opens a link on a mobile device to a standard Facebook App, they get a 404 error message saying that the page is not found.
Instead of sending someone on a mobile device to an error page, our mobile detection code sends them to a mobile friendly page off of Facebook that allows them to access the promotion or information that would normally be behind the Fangate. On this page, we don’t force people to like the Page in order to access a special area, but we add a Facebook widget that encourages people to like the Page.
Our technique means that mobile visitors won’t actually get blocked by a Fangate, but we think it’s a reasonable compromise since it ensures mobile visitors a quality experience. This technique also has the advantage of being able to redirect mobile visitors to a different site if, for instance, you develop a native mobile app.
Have you used mobile detection and redirection to handle mobile visitors to your Facebook Apps? If you have any suggestions, please let us know in the comments!