Facebook Tabs Change to iFrames (and There Was Much Rejoicing)

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Feb 14, 2011
More Articles by Janet

Late last week, Facebook announced the capability to add iframes to Facebook page tabs. Now companies have the choice in using FMBL (the old way) or iframes (the new way) to program tabs. I, for one, am thrilled with this long-awaited news regarding iframes, and here’s why I think Facebook tab iframes will serve most marketers better than the old FBML approach:

1. Use your own CSS!

One frustration I’ve long had with creating Facebook tab pages is that not all styles will work properly when coded into the tab using the <style> attribute. In the past, programming a Facebook page tab was much like programming an HTML email — there were certain style limitations on things like backgrounds and more. However, with the new iframes model, because the framed content will reside on your own website, you will be able to pull styles directly from your own style sheet and they will display properly when rendered in the Facebook frame. This is a HUGE timesaver when you’re trying to program pages to match your corporate brand without having to create a completely separate layout every time.

2. Track pageviews with Google Analytics!

Not long ago, Facebook removed some features that allowed you to track your page views in Facebook via Google Analytics (and other web analytics packages). And because Facebook does a TERRIBLE job of sharing this information with you, the page owner, it makes it difficult to gauge which tab pages work well and which don’t and why. With iframes, because the content really resides on a page on your site, you can now track the pageviews! Hallelujah!!

3. Test pages with Google Website Optimizer!

OK, I know I may be going overboard with the exclamation points now, but really, this stuff is great for marketers! My next favorite thing about iframes is that marketers will now be able to test page elements or whole pages using the free tool Google Website Optimizer. Not sure what works on your tab page and what isn’t? Use Google Website Optimizer to test elements or whole pages to see what converts more people… which leads me to my next point…

4. Track conversions from Facebook!!

Seriously, this one deserves about fifteen exclamation points. As a Facebook advertiser, we’ve done some testing for ourselves and with clients regarding which types of pages tend to convert more Facebook ad respondents, and, so far, we find that respondents to Facebook ads tend to convert more when landing on a landing page within Facebook. My theory on this is that Facebook users, unlike search engine users, are on Facebook to do something else — not necessarily respond to your ad. When they do respond to your ad, they likely wanted to stay within the Facebook application and continue back to their regular business when done with your page. At least, that’s my theory.

We highly recommend Facebook landing pages to clients running Facebook ads for that very reason. But now, iframes makes tracking conversions from Facebook and keeping ad respondents within the Facebook application much easier. Before, I had to create a separate landing page and thank you page in FBML — now it all just resides on my website, and within one frame on Facebook.

5. Ability to Use Dynamic Programming Languages!

This excites me because now I can do so much more with my tab pages because I can use PHP, ASP, etc. on these pages. Since they reside on my own site, whatever I can do on my own site can be done through the window that Facebook provides via the iframe. This opens up all new worlds of possibilities for pages, including my next point…

6. Ecommerce!!!

If you’re an online retailer, you should be taking advantage of iframes TODAY. Now you can add pages for your various product lines, like Women’s clothing — just reformat the page on your site into a Facebook-friendly version. I discuss how to do this in my next post. Then folks can order from your site directly through the Facebook tab. Woo hooo! Mo money!

Later today I’ll have a new post up on how to create a Facebook tab page using the iframe format. Stay tuned!

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  • http://www.140ology.com Brian Leimone

    Hi Janet,

    I appreciate your blog and your thoughts.

    I am curious about the steps you take for point #4. We’ve really struggled in helping our clients track Page LIKES from Facebook Ads. We’re already using custom landing pages for the ad for a while now.

    We’re actually launching a new solution for people with iFrames so we can do pretty much anything we need. Can you help?

    And in the mean time check out what we’re doing with this new custom tab solution at http://www.FanPagePROApp.com and let me know what you think.


  • http://smalltownkid.net/ Asif Hussain


    I am a FBML page developer and this news that FBML is shutting off terrified me a lot as this is my main income source.

    I am thankful to you that you are one of the very first to publish a great and detailed article on iframes. Now my worries have lessened a bit. I saw that you also wrote an article on how to set up a page using iframes, i’ll read that now.

    Thanks again

  • Bruno Bros


    I found a solution very usefull.
    Just add the application iframe.apps to the fan page: http://www.facebook.com/iframe.apps

    Feel free to tell it to your readers,
    Bruno Bros