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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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Using Friendships to Increase Your Audience

The friendships or connections that a user creates compose a great portion of her social graph, which you can leverage to increase your application’s user base and ramp up application activity. Friendships are a reciprocated link between two users. For a developer, friendships provide a way to take advantage of full profile details from a much larger audience of users. In short, when a user creates this type of link with another user, she is telling the container that she knows and trusts the other person with her profile and personal information. This trust relationship permeates the social graph, and developers can build off this trust to get more profile information for people relevant to the original user. These concepts work equally well in a follower model such as Twitter; you’re looking for a means of using a physical connection (like a friendship or work contact) to your advantage.

Many of us who belong to any of the popular social networks have either generated or received annoying messages from one of the virally popular games, requesting that you help the user out in some fashion by installing the application. Looking closer at such games, we can see that one major reason they have “gone viral” is because of the huge relevant social graph that they build.

The important word here is relevant—something that many social networks struggle with at times. Most social platform users add many people to their social graph other than close ...

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