During our second year in the social app industry, we crossed several milestones, made a ton of enhancements and continued to grow. Here’s a look at what went down at ShortStack in 2012.
ShortStack Announces 750 percent Revenue Growth from Previous Year
We kicked off 2012 with a bang, announcing a 750 percent growth in revenue. Some other notable accomplishments included increasing users from 660 t0 more than 100,000, expanding our user base to more than 184 countries, topping over 200,000 apps created and increasing staff by 80 percent.
“We’re really humbled by our growth. It’s a sign that our users think we’re doing something right. It’s also an incentive for us to continue to develop at a rapid pace,” CEO Jim Belosic said.
Facebook Announces Timeline for Pages
In February 2012, Facebook began releasing Timeline for business Pages. The update included some major changes for third-party app platforms, like an increased app width from 520 pixels to 810 pixels.
We stayed ahead of the game and became “Timeline Ready” before the new layout was available to Pages.
ShortStack Goes Mobile
ShortStack apps became viewable on mobile devices with a little invention we call “Smart URLs.” Smart URLs detect whether visitors are accessing an app from a desktop computer or from a mobile device. Since Facebook doesn’t support custom apps on mobile devices, Smart URLs bypass Facebook for mobile users, and display the app on our servers. Use Smart URLs in posts, pins, newsletters, etc. so that your fans can view your apps while they’re on-the-go.
810 pixel Templates Become Available
Less than a month after Facebook switched Pages to Timeline, we released 810-pixel templates to make it easy for our users to create Timeline ready apps!
Facebook ID Field
The new Facebook ID Field collects a fan’s unique Facebook ID to limit entry fraud, and gives you control over how many times each Facebook profile can enter your contest.
ShortStack Supports Integrating Custom Forms and Promotions with MailChimp and HighRise
We enhanced our integration with MailChimp by adding a new feature that can automatically subscribe promotion and custom form entries to a MailChimp newsletter. The feature is also compatible with HighRise, and it allows you to build your contact list with every entry received.
Added “live” and “test” mode for Contests
The new “Data Mode” feature in the Live Preview of the Designer switches the Custom Form and all Promotion Widgets (Promotion, Voting and Entry Count) to accept and use live data. This means that if you enter or vote in your promotion from the Live Preview, that action is counted toward the live totals. Unchecking the box will switch these widgets to accept and use test data.
This is a great feature for users who want to upload their own content for their fans to vote on. Setting up a promotion with pre-defined entries used to require users to install and submit entries there. With this new setting, that’s no longer necessary.
In May, we launched ShortStack University – a free, authoritative online video guide that explores Facebook Page features and functions. ShortStack University covers a variety of Page-related topics with Facebook-centered curriculum. Topics include creating a Page, social plugins, status updates, Facebook ads, promotion guidelines, EdgeRank and many more. ShortStack University lessons are uploaded to YouTube and are usually less than three minutes long. You can sign up to receive a new lesson via email every Wednesday here: http://eepurl.com/fafos
The Referral Program allows paid users to opt-in to show the ShortStack logo in the footer of their apps. When someone clicks on the logo on your app, they’re directed to ShortStack’s website. If they sign up for a paid plan, you get some money! Want to start rolling in the dough? It’s easy! Sign up for the Referral Program here: http://referral.shortstacklab.com/
The Refer-a-Friend feature unlocks more social power for your contests. With the Refer-a-Friend feature, fans who enter your contest will receive a referral link to share the contest on their own Timeline. Each time one of their friends enters the contest via the referral link, the referrer receives extra entries into the contest. The process is customizable and you can decide how many extra chances to win the referrer receives for each friend who enters. When partnered with ShortStack’s Voting Widget, the Refer-a-Friend feature becomes even more powerful. Each entrant has the ability to share his or her own entry on their Facebook Timeline with their entry details built into the Status Update.
Enhancements to Mobile Capabilities
Your fans can enter your photo contest “By Email.” When this option is enabled, fans can send their photo to a special email address and then use that photo to enter your contest. You can see a detailed description of this new feature in the following video. We also added the ability to preview a working app on a mobile device with the “mobile preview” button. This feature gives you a pop-up preview of your app on a mobile phone.
Preview Apps via a QR Code
In addition to the Mobile Preview feature, we added a QR code feature to the Live Preview of the Designer. By scanning this temporary QR code with your mobile device, you can get a preview of what your app will look like when it’s installed. If your app is already published, you can download the permanent QR code and use it on promotional materials like fliers, pamphlets and business cards.
Integration with Webhook
Our Webhook integration lets you automatically send an HTTP POST of the data collected from your form to a web page on your server. The Webhook integration can be found in the Forms & Promos Manager under Manage Integrations. This feature is only available to users on a paid plan.
Code Snippet Library
The External Embed feature lets you embed your custom apps on websites outside of Facebook. You can adjust the height and width of your app to better suit your web page, and restrict the app from being embedded on any website you haven’t approved. External Embed is similar to our mobile feature, which brings the app outside of Facebook but still allows users to interact with it as if they were viewing it on a Facebook Page. To learn more, check out the guide: ShortStack’s External Embed Feature.
Football Themed Templates
Our football-themed templates were designed to help you engage your fans during football season.
Random Entry Picker
The random entry picker makes it easy to select a contest winner. When viewing your form’s entries, you’ll see a “Pick Random Entries” button. You can filter your entries prior to making a selection so that you can run a “guess the number” promotion and select from only those who guessed the number correctly.
Free Facebook Marketing eBook
We released our first Facebook Marketing eBook, “Everything Your Social Media Guru Didn’t Teach You About Facebook Marketing,” a seven-chapter, tutorial-style handbook that presents ways to get real value from a Facebook Page.
Our free eBook is available for download on ShortStack’s Facebook Page.
CEO, Jim Belosic, Speaks at Facebook Success Summit
Our CEO, Jim Belosic, joined Facebook Marketing experts Mari Smith, Dave Kerpen, Amy Porterfield, John Haydon and 15 others for a live online conference hosted by Social Media Examiner. The 21-day conference featured thought leaders sharing their techniques and proven business-building tactics for Facebook success. Jim discussed Facebook customer relationship management (CRM).
Approve Entries from Notification Email
Now you can approve contest entries directly from entry notification emails. The best part? It’s completely white-labeled, which means that agencies can set up their contests so that email notices are sent to the clients and the clients can approve the entries by email. We have a detailed description of how the new feature works here: Approve entries from notification email.
New Website Launch
The new ShortStack.com website was designed with potential users in mind. It’s easy to explore our features, capabilities and success stories. The new site lets visitors select their business type (designer, small business, agency/brand) and then see how ShortStack can meet their specific needs.
Free Holiday eBook
Our second eBook, “The Ultimate Facebook Holiday Idea Book: Ideas to pump up your business’s Facebook efforts this holiday season,” was released as a free download on the ShortStack Facebook Page. The eBook covers five main topics and includes insight from 11 of social media’s top experts including: Facebook Marketing Author and Trainer Amy Porterfield, Online Marketing Expert Melanie Duncan, CEO and Founder of Social Media Examiner Michael Stelzner and CEO and Founder of Digital Royalty Amy Jo Martin, among several others.
ShortStack’s Holiday Idea Book covers five topics:
Create Bit.ly Links in ShortStack
The Links Widget, Image Widget and Background Image option all have a new “Shorten URL” button, which creates a Bit.ly link from the URL you enter. Bit.ly links in the Links Widget also have an analytics icon that will take you to the corresponding Bit.ly “stats” page. These analytics will not show in ShortStack’s Advanced Analytics.
Integration with Constant Contact
Our integration with Constant Contact lets you create Promotions and Custom Forms that double as Constant Contact sign up forms. To access the Constant Contact integration, head to the Forms & Promos Manager and click on the Manage Integrations icon from the series of icons to the right of your form. The set up process is similar to setting up a MailChimp integration. For a detailed guide, refer to our Constant Contact help doc.
With our Instagram Integration, your fans can enter your photo contest with photos from their Instagram feeds, and you can restrict entry by specific hashtags. For a detailed description of the feature, check out this video tutorial.
Updates to Promotion and Custom Form Widgets
You can now access your forms and entries straight from the Designer. You’ll see two new links under Promotion and Custom Form Widgets in the Edit Widgets column: “Edit Form” and “# of Entries.” These links take you to the Form Designer and View Entries, respectively, for the database the widget is displaying.
Updates to Publishing Features
Now it’s easier to know if you have unpublished changes to an app. If you are working on an installed app but haven’t hit the Publish Changes button, we let you know that you have unpublished changes in the Manager. In the “Since Last Change” column, a “Pending” notification will appear if you have unpublished changes.
The Action Widget is a simple way to create “if this happens, then do that” situations on apps. It does this by providing a list of all of the events that the widgets on an app can initiate and allows users to set up actions to take when these events occur. We have a detailed description of the Action Widget in this tutorial video: ShortStack Action Widget.
Free Cheat Sheet for Important Timeline Dimensions
The Timeline dimensions cheat sheet makes it easy for Page admins to create new images that are just the right size. You can see the complete guide to Facebook Timeline dimensions on Socially Stacked.
In addition to improving our platform, our user base grew immensely in 2012 with some significant brands jumping on board. Here’s just a few: NBC News, Black and Decker, Pitbull, Daughtry, Supra Footwear, Falken Tire, 3 Doors Down, Ford Racing, Lynda.com, Marley’s Mellow Moods, Knott’s Berry Farm. We are thankful to all of our 170,000+ users that we serve on a daily basis!
That just about wraps up our list of big changes, enhancements and added features from 2012. We’re always making enhancements to our platform. To stay up-to-date with all changes, bookmark our New Features page on the blog, and check our road map where we post all platform updates.