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Facebook Cookbook by Jay Goldman

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The Winning Formula for Facebook

Jayant Agarwalla (see his bio in Contributors)

Problem

What’s the winning formula for creating a successful Facebook application?

Solution

Never build an application that you think will be successful. Always build an application that you know will be successful. Think carefully. Is your app going to have a seasonal appeal? Is it something that will not lose its charm after being used 100 times by a user? Are there any existing apps that are similar? If so, have you looked at their discussion boards and written down all the flaws? Getting a user to try a new app is difficult, but getting a user to switch from one app to another is nearly impossible. Try to build an application only when you see the need for it.

Discussion

Ever since Facebook launched its platform in May 2007, there has been a frenzy of activity amongst developers across the world. While there were only a handful of applications in the first couple of months, Facebook now has nearly 30,000 of them. Facebook applications have sublimely demonstrated the immense potential of a social network, in terms of entertainment as well as a solid revenue source.

Flipping the coin, however, shows us the darker side. In October 2007, a report prepared by a research team headed by Tim O’Reilly had revealed shocking results: 87% of application usage went to just 84 applications (out of around 5,000 applications at that time). And only 45 applications had more than 100,000 daily active users. Seven months ...

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