Step by Step Guide to Collecting Opt-Ins via Facebook

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by PushSend, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. PushSend

    PushSend VIP

    Apr 12, 2011
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    A few months ago, my colleague Loren McDonald wrote a blog post titled, “Leverage Facebook to Grow Your Email Database,” where he outlined all the super-smart reasons to add an email opt-in form to your Facebook page. I’m not going to rehash all the business drivers, but instead let’s focus today on what it takes to build the form in a marketing technology platform such as Silverpop Engage and to create a new app in Facebook.

    But first, a disclaimer: During the process, you’re going to log in to Facebook’s Developer site. Do not panic, it’s way easier than it sounds. If you can cut and paste a URL, you’re golden. Plus, you can tell all your friends you’re now a Facebook developer — how cool is that? Here are the step-by-step instructions:

    1) First, you need an opt-in form that’s associated with a specific database in your marketing technology platform. I’ve created a Facebook brand page for a sample company called Scrobbl that we’ll use for this example. You probably already have a database — and may even already have an opt-in form. You can use your original form, or simply add a separate opt-in form. Guess what? That’s the hard part!

    2) Pro tip: If you’re creating a new form, don’t miss the opportunity to add a “CRM Lead Source” value like “FBOptIn” that you can query against when it comes time to email these recipients. For this example, let’s assume this is a dedicated form, so we can simply add the value in the “FBOptIn” at the form level by adding to the field named “Lead Source.” It carries that value along when the user clicks submit, and now you instantly know where that lead originated from. There are a couple different ways to accomplish this, but we’ll look at more methods in future posts.

    3) Next, let’s head over to Facebook. For this example, let’s assume you have a brand page already. (If not, here’s where to get started.) Just open your favorite browser and hit You may have to run through some second-level verification via your mobile phone, but that’s it — you’re a Facebook “developer” now. The first thing to do is click on the gray button on the top right called “+ Create New App.” Give it the title you want to appear in your left-hand navigation on your Facebook page. I’d suggest something straightforward like “Newsletter.” When you’re done, this is what the completed page will look like:


    4) Now let’s look at the main page for your new newsletter app. First, I’d suggest uploading an icon to replace the temporary graphic. (I just grabbed one from Google Images for this example.) The image will display next to the title in your left-hand navigation, and having a relevant image increases your user’s at-a-glance understanding. You can pretty much ignore the “Basic Info” and “Cloud Services” sections for now — unless you want notifications sent to an email address other than the one you’ve associated with Facebook.

    5) Now let’s get down to the hard part – like pasting your form URL into a couple form fields! Under the section that asks how you want your app to integrate with Facebook, choose “App on Facebook.” You’ll see the two form fields open up, and here’s where we need the URL from your form. You’ll also want to open the “Page Tab” section, and stand by to paste the URL into that section as well.

    6) There’s one minor URL tweak you’ll have to make here, and it’s critical. We need to add “?sp_init=1” to the end of the URL. Because there’s an initial technical handshake between Facebook and your form, we need to tell the app to ignore that first session. This little piece of code does exactly that.

    7) Now just copy your URLs from the “Canvas URL” field, and paste it into the “Secure Canvas URL” field in the “App on Facebook” section, adding the “s” to the “http” to create a secure version of the URL. Now do the same exact thing in the “Page Tab” section, and give it the name you want displayed in the UI (I called it “Newsletter”). You can leave the “Page Tab Edit URL” blank.And boom, that’s it. Give the servers about 10 minutes to load everything up, and there’s just one more step: Plugging the app into your brand page.

    8) Here’s where some hacking is required given recent changes to the Facebook Developer site. In the old days, there was a friendly little link on your app’s homepage, but Facebook killed that in early December in an attempt to incent developers to build more fully functional apps. Our goal here is to just smarten up our Facebook page, so here’s how to auto-generate the page you’ll need to add the new app to your brand page. Use this syntax and plug in your own details:[App_ID]&next=[Canvas_URL]

    Just paste that URL into your browser, select your brand page from the dropdown, and add the app. Voila! Make sure to give it a good end-to-end test to make sure everything is properly writing to your marketing database.

    source: SilverPop

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