Monday, 8 October 2007

Facebook applications - good news, bad news

There is a global buzz about creating facebook applications and widgets since they released their ground-breaking API concept. Media companies are looking at a parasitic "can't beat em, join em approach" - particularly in markets like South Africa where Facebook is growing like wildfire.

Tim O'Reilly's recent report, The Facebook Application Platform, has revealed some hard truths. Not all facebook applications are created equal. Of the 5000, 87% of the usage goes to only 84 applications! Only 45 applications have more than 100,000 active users.

I think there is opportunity in applications for publishers - but no certainty that it is going to stick. As content providers we should think past the fads and deliver content that we understand to be useful to our respective audiences. Just as we always have done.


  1. In the vein of this interesting post, I'll adopt the good news/bad news model. The good news is that Facebook helps us think differently about what it means to communicate in an online world where users are being led to believe that "it's all about me." The bad news is that, to get found, you really need to think about scale and marketing in the same way as in the real world. One great recent example drove this home to me. Yahoo! has a HotJobs partnership with a bunch of newspapers in the states. Yahoo! wrote a Facebook application designed to let users "play" with its brand and think about finding a better job -- with HotJobs, naturally. Unfortunately, instead of treating its partners, many of whom were ON Facebook as its friends, and engaging in a little viral marketing within the virtual world of this site, nobody knew about it until the little widget was launched. Just a tiny bit of relationship marketing could have had a much bigger impact.

  2. Actually, I couldn't have described the potential of applying real-world marketing principles to social networking sites any better than Forbes did in this piece.


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