This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
The number of Facebook applications can seem a little overwhelming at times. While Facebook doesn’t share an exact number, an independent website called AppData monitors trends for over 100,000 Facebook applications, which is a lot to sift through.
As a business, trying to determine which of those apps can help your organization can be daunting. To get you started, here are four essential Facebook apps that allow you to better reach and communicate with your audience, as well as save you time for all those other things you have to do.
1. Tweets to Pages — Display Your Twitter Feed
Tweets to Pages, which has 1.2 million monthly active users, will create a tab on your Facebook Page that displays a timeline of your company’s most recent tweets. This is a great feature for providing additional, real-time information to Facebook users who don’t have a Twitter account and for avoiding the annoyance your fans would feel if you were to constantly stream your tweets to Facebook as wall updates. The app is very easy to set up, and the free version allows you to adjust the number of tweets that show on the Tweets to Pages tab.
If you want to upgrade to the paid version, you can better control your content limits, choose a color scheme, add a banner and allow comments on your tweets.
2. Static HTML: iframe Tabs — Create a Custom Landing Page
It’s worth noting that you will still need to host your own files, and you won’t be able to remove the scrollbars for any design over 520 pixels wide and 800 pixels tall.
3. ContactMe — Add a Contact Form
ContactMe, with 180,000 monthly active users, adds a tab on your organization’s Facebook Page with a contact form. This allows anyone visiting your Facebook page to easily get in touch with you at the very moment when they’re most interested.
The biggest advantage of this app is its customization options. You can choose whether you’d prefer to show your company’s contact information or social media icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Skype. You can also adjust, add, remove, reorder and require specific fields through a simple user interface on contactme.com. And of course, there’s a paid option to remove the ContactMe branding, offer a custom success message and receive text message alerts when someone submits the form.
4. RSS Graffiti – Automatically Post Updates
RSS Graffiti, with 1.5 million monthly users, allows you to automatically post wall updates any time there’s a new item in one of your specified feeds. For example, if you publish to a company blog every day, RSS Graffiti can automatically post an excerpt of the article with a direct link onto your Facebook page’s wall. That saves you the time and effort of creating a new wall update every day to distribute your company’s content.
Just like ContactMe, the customization options for this application make it stand out. You can automatically post more than one RSS feed, adjust how the post looks when published, schedule how often the feed is checked, and specify how many posts should be published per check. And most importantly, with all these options and more, the configuration interface is still easy to use and intuitive.
Do you use any of these apps on your business’ Facebook Page? Do you use other ones? Let us know in the comments below.