Should I Build a Facebook Application?
Laura Dec, Former Viget
Facebook and the Facebook Application Platform are receiving more and more buzz everyday. So, should you join in on the craze if you’re an existing “Web 2.0” site or still in the planning phases of a start-up?
The answer, of course, depends on what your business objectives and goals are, but there is no doubt that becoming part of the Facebook community holds tremendous potential.
If you’re a Facebook newbie, here are a few stats:
- Facebook has more than 67 million active members, with an average weekly growth of 3 percent since January 2007.
- More than half of Facebook's members are beyond college; the fastest growing demographic is 25 years old and older.
- More than half of Facebook’s active members return daily to spend, on average, 20 minutes on the site.
- More than 18,000 applications have been built on the Facebook platform, with 40 new applications being added every day.
- An astounding rate of more than 95 percent of Facebook members have used at least one application built on the Facebook platform.
- (For more information and up-to-date statistics, please see http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics)
Aside from the readily available large network of users, other benefits of building a Facebook application for your business include:
Testing the Waters – Building a Facebook application can be a great “proving ground” for new start-ups (and even existing web sites). By getting a product to the market fast and taking advantage of the Facebook network, you get a chance to see what works and what doesn’t before committing to building a large-scale web application.
Growing Virally – Because of Facebook’s large, connected network, not only do you get access to a wide audience of potential new users, but you also receive built-in viral marketing tools that use the social graph. Engaging Your Users – On average, 50 percent of Facebook users return daily. This provides the ability to offer engaging, relevant, and fresh content or data to your users.
Making Money – The use of ads (such as Google Adsense) is permitted within your application. You can also use affiliate programs (such as Ebay or Amazon) or create partnerships with other providers to offer existing content to your users. There's also a new trend of cross-promoting your application with other related Facebook applications to drive new traffic.
Tracking Analytics – The Facebook platform now offers a way to set up Google Analytics code within your application, which allows you to track analytics and site usage toward identifying areas for improvement. There are also a number of Facebook-specific analytics programs popping up that help to track unique trends, such as user demographics, and allow you to compare yourself to other applications.
Getting Funding – Facebook is also providing small, no-equity grants to Facebook application developers. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/press/releases.php?p=4821.