Fickle Facebook Friends

Paul Kedrosky has noted Facebook user’s fickle adoption of the new third-party applications. Like any user-centric platform users can easily add or remove an application. This does lead to a high level of tire-kicking as Paul mentioned. What developers can expect then is an audience that approaches adoption with a try-before-I-buy mentality. In other words, the Facebook crowd is a savvy user base, fearless but harsh.

Therefore, when developers are planning for and designing their F8 strategy, it is important to remember what the platform was originally designed to do. Just read the home screen, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you” (emphasis theirs). Facebook has done an amazing job with this charge. They have created a site that organizes friendships into a consumable product but most importantly they have allowed users the ability to express and extend their personality online. This is what keeps socialites glued to Facebook day in and day out.

A successful Facebook application will help to extend the user’s online presence. Whether it means providing a service that allows friends to add updates to a user’s profile (therefore reinforcing and augmenting the friendship) or increasing the opportunity for a user to express their individuality, applications that stick will understand and harness the behavior pattern of Facebook users.

All of the widely used applications do this. Applications with lasting adoption include the deeply-integrated feature-rich iLike, to the less serious Graffiti and SuperPoke, each complementing the user’s expectations of the network.

To win on Facebook, understand the network as a social facilitator, the user as an individual, and friends as reinforcers. Use these ideas in the way demonstrated by thriving in-house applications (e.g. photos, wall, and groups) and create real value within the network for a lasting business opportunity.

Getting back to the original point, users are quickly being bombarded with new applications, many of them adaptations of websites pigeonholed to the F8 Platform. What we see is these applications failing to gain widespread usage. Users rapidly evaluate a new application and determine it’s worth compared to canonical Facebook products.

Does your application help a person tell something about them self? Does your application help friends be friends? Don’t just dump content on their profile and think it will stay. In fact you shouldn’t want static content, encourage interactivity! Design for the platform, create a viral strategy, and keep your application in the user’s profiles.

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9 responses to “Fickle Facebook Friends

  1. Good post. But where’s the About page for this blog?

  2. facebook has gotten out of control…

  3. It’s very true about what you said, the only concern I’ve run across is those “cross-site” users who have accounts on multiple social networking sites and aren’t even there for the enjoyment of meeting new people. This just leads to them adding a massive amount of applications to their profile and nearly killing Facebook’s database. It’s already toppled three or four times (that I know of at least) and is bound to hit rock bottom again. Facebook needs to limit the allowed number of applications [er profile. (or at least remove the applications that haven’t been used for a set period of time by the account owner) Good post nonetheless, bringing up some much needed topics of discussion.

  4. @letshack

    Do these users really use the network enough to cause that much concern? I would agree that it causes some strain but FB is not only early in their development here, but also as playful as other networks such as MySpace. Long story short, I think the users you are talking about don’t stay long enough, nor make up enough of Facebook’s “attention audience” to really create a lasting problem.

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  7. Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at San Francisco, CA there is a Facebook conference where developers and entrepreneurs collaborate on the future of personalized and social technologies.

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