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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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Chapter 6. OpenSocial Activities, Sharing, and Data Requests

One of the biggest challenges with building social applications is figuring out how to promote your applications and leverage external data sources to build in a rich feature set that will keep users’ attention and drive a loyal customer base.

Many developers integrate application sharing and activity hooks only as an afterthought; the overall architecture for increasing application use is of little importance to them. The simple fact is that the standard methods that containers set up to promote applications, such as galleries, are not effective drivers of user installs. In many instances, these galleries are oversaturated with thousands of applications and are built to surface the most popular applications at the top. For a new developer, this means not only having to compete with the gallery’s numerous applications, but also having to start at the bottom of the pile. This concept is similar to a person’s credit history—having no credit is the same as having bad credit.

This is where promoting your application with activities through a regimented sharing process comes into play. Doing so allows you to surface links to your application directly in the user’s day-to-day activity stream. In addition, properly augmenting your application with fresh content via data requests will help to draw and keep users’ attention, increasing not only your number of installs, but also your daily active users.

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