Feb 15, 2011

Shortstack Integration with MailChimp – Post News to your Facebook Page

Shortstack Logo

People want to connect with other humans socially, whether they’re looking for customer service or just more information about a product. Facebook is the perfect place to do that because it’s built on a paradigm in which real people connect with their real friends online, using their real identities. So in a world where people are increasingly connecting with you and your business via Facebook and business owners are relying less on static, standalone websites, Shortstack is a powerful way to get more out of your Facebook page.

We’re excited to announce Shortstack, a wonderful service that makes the daunting task of creating Facebook landing tabs much simpler by providing a DIY solution that doesn’t require any knowledge of programming or the Facebook API. They offer a wide range of customizable widgets– including video, RSS feeds, Twitter, product catalogs, photos galleries and more– that you can use to enrich the Facebook pages you manage, and they even offer a freemium plan if you’re just starting out.

One of the coolest things about Shortstack is how much granular control they’ve built in to the product, while still keeping things drag-and-drop simple for the average user. This means you can specify who’s allowed to see specific content (fans vs. not fans), or enable sharing for specific page elements (think surveys, photo galleries). In short, this is a great tool whether you’re a restaurant, a band, a retail location, a visual artist or another business entirely.

The Application

When I was tinkering with Shortstack’s MailChimp integration, I decided to create a landing tab for my restaurant concept, Space Food Cafe. It’s nice that there are lots of custom templates and wireframe layouts to help get you started, or you can just choose the modules you want to use a la cart. Here’s a peek at the dashboard area, where all of the magic happens.

shortstack dashboard

For my cafe, I went with a slightly more simplified template that allows for both a header and footer image. Once I got my header image just right, I added a module that allows people to subscribe to my MailChimp list. Since sending out Weekly Specials via email allows my cafe visitors to get a 20% discount on their purchase, this is perhaps the most important bit of info I want to capture from my visitors. Hence the prominent placement.

space food cafe email capture

Adding Your MailChimp Signup Form

Adding your signup form only takes a few clicks. When you click on the Freddie icon (listed under "Forms" in your Shortstack dashboard), a dialog box pops up asking for your MailChimp API key. (Don’t worry, a little popup window will allow you to log in to MailChimp and grab your key, so no need to copy/paste in advance. Just make sure you have popups enabled on your browser.) Once that’s entered, Shortstack will display a drop-down menu of all your MailChimp Lists, and you’ll choose which one you want to link to your Page. You can also tweak some additional options, like adding instructions for the user or changing the text of your Submit link.

add a newsletter signup form

Sharing Your News

The ability to post your newsletter– whether it’s your latest or one that you’ve archived and sent previously– is the second element of our Shortstack integration. This is great for my cafe, since it allows me to repurpose my Weekly Specials email as content for my fans. And since Shortstack gives you the option of choosing which content fans vs. non-fans get to see, this is another way to incentivize sign ups.

space food cafe newsletter

One thing to remember is that Facebook only gives you 520px wide for your Page content, and that’s less than MailChimp’s template default of 600px. One possible work around is using our mobile optimized templates which you’ll find in Step 3 of the campaign builder under Start From Scratch ==> Mobile. This is the solution I chose, and it worked well with a two column wireframe from Shortstack.

use mobile templates

If you’re looking for a way to extend your Facebook page functionality, give Shortstack a try and then let us know about all the innovative things you’re doing in the comments.