apps

Discovering the Benefits of Facebook Apps

Discovering the Benefits of Facebook Apps

In our modern age, we are already spending more time online than we are with any other media. To add to that fact, we are spending a lot of that digital time with our mobile devices–and, most of our mobile device time is spent using apps.

So, why don’t you have an app for your business yet? If you focus on just the U.S. market, Americans are spending over five hours per day in the digital world–around two hours of that time is spent on mobile devices. This is up 575% from 2010. This shows that customers want and need the simplicity and focus which apps provide. And, with Facebook being the largest social media site to date, it makes sense to build a Facebook app. We will share the benefits below

What is a Facebook app?

The Facebook App Center is where you can find apps and games. All you have to do is search for a specific game or app by entering its name into the search box. You can also use the search box to find the app’s website and send the app to your phone or tablet. Facebook apps are designed to utilize the core technologies of the Facebook platform. They also integrate Facebook’s notifications, news feed, social channels and other features to help generate interest among Facebook users.

Building a Facebook app

To create a Facebook app, you need an account. You then need to add the Developer application to your Facebook profile and click “Set Up New Application.” After that, you will name it, agree to the terms and load your logo. The good news is you don’t need extensive coding skills to create a Facebook app. However, you do need to have some basic knowledge of PHP and MySQL.

Also, all apps are written in HTML, Javascript and CSS. Plus, you can use any What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) HTML editor to write the content you want displayed in your Facebook application. The Graph API is the core of the Facebook platform. It uniformly represents objects in a graph, as well as the connections between them such as relationships, shared content and photo tags. Once you’ve created your app, anyone can add it to their profiles. Of course, you can always get help.

Building a Facebook App

Benefits of Facebook apps

  1. Increased engagement. There are many reasons to create a Facebook app such as using it to promote competitions, special offers, events and contests. This helps to involve people with your brand and to build relationships. In addition, it encourages people to interact with your brand.
  1. It increases web traffic. If you promote your app through Facebook, you can then increase web traffic to your site.
  1. Improves customer retention. Your app can add value to your existing customers by making it easy to interact with your brand. They also want to know that you are active and engaged. By ensuring a steady stream of relevant content, you create more opportunities for customer retention and up-selling.
  1. Enhance brand awareness. The whole world uses Facebook. If you showcase a well-designed app, it can elevate the image and profile of your company with your target market. It shows you have technological and business savvy. Plus, you make it convenient for your prospects to find you.
  1. New customer acquisition. By creating an app on Facebook, you can find customers that you might not have found through other means such as online advertising. It can also be used as a lead generation tool for reviewing potential prospects’ profiles as a means of qualifying leads.
  1. It’s cool. Having an app on Facebook is deemed as exciting. You can never tell who is using Facebook. To illustrate, a prospect may be doing research on your company and check Facebook to see if you have a presence there. They see your app and a few positive posts about your brand. This could be one of the deciding factors over whether or not they utilize your goods and services. The fact is, Facebook continues to gain in popularity and that isn’t not going to decline significantly any time soon.
  1. A viral effect. Facebook has the leverage to make content go viral. One post or one app can be shared millions of times. This takes word-of-mouth to an entirely different level. Crowds attract more crowds. When prospects see their friends using and liking your app, that will influence their decision.

Some of the most popular and successful Facebook apps include Buffer and Glassdoor.

Facebook continues to break down walls and expand in ways no one ever expected. It is a social media giant in every sense of the word. This is why, you need to have an app on Facebook and the sooner, the better.

Facebook [Next Generation] Open Graph Apps

Everyone has likely seen Spotify popping up in their News Feeds since last year, but Facebook continues to roll out new Open Graph apps – over 60 in just the last few weeks. With that in mind, I wanted to share a quick overview of how Open Graph apps are starting to (and can) be utilized.

Entertainment is the most robust category so far, with over 18 associated apps available. It is also important to note that Timeline, once optional, is now mandatory and is rumored to be available for businesses soon. With that in mind, OG apps should be developed with Timeline in mind to ensure the widest audience.

The general concept to embrace is frictionless sharing. Open Graph apps require users to allow continuous publishing permission and feature actions that can be automatically shared, rather than explicitly asking users to share individual actions (i.e. the Like button plugin).

A few high-level notes on who and what has rolled something out:

Brands:

  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Grab-a-Badge (http://social.ford.com/grab-a-badge)
  • AutoTrader

Apps:

  • News – Washington Post, Yahoo! News, USA Today
  • Travel – Where I’ve Been, TripAdvisor
  • Giving – Causes
  • Food – Foodily, Foodspotting
  • Shopping & Fashion – Pinterest, LivingSocial (no Groupon!), GiftRocket
  • Fitness – MapMyFitness, RunKeeper
  • Entertainment – Hulu, TicketMaster, StubHub, DailyMotion,

Noticeably absent:

  • YouTube
  • Groupon

There is also a distinction to be make between how app activity appears in the News Feed/Ticker and users’ actual Timelines. In short, there are more aesthetic and functional options available now than ever before.

In terms of visibility, there are two algorithms at play in the News Feed: EdgeRank and Graph Rank. EdgeRank priority is mostly governed by an item’s affinity, weight and time, relevant to a user’s personal network. At this point, not much is known about the parameters for Graph Rank. In brief:

  1. EdgeRank dictates what “normal” status items appear in any given user’s feed.
  2. Graph Rank determines how Open Graph application activity is distributed.

Feel free to browse all 60 apps and watch some of FB’s ultra PR-friendly video overviews. Enjoy.

Major Facebook Security Changes Oct 1 Audit your Applications Now!

On October 1, 2011, Facebook will make a mandatory change to all applications, as per the Facebook Developer Roadmap. Any affected application not updated before the change will become inoperable.

It is imperative that you audit any/all client Facebook apps/experiences in order to ascertain if they will be affected by these changes. Again, these changes must be made to existing Facebook applications (or inserted into current build plans for applications) – if not, these client applications will be rendered inoperable as of OCT 1.

We are sending this out now as the supported toolkits from Facebook were just updated and released and are now ready to be implemented against.

Recommended Audit steps:

  1. Identify and list all programs with Facebook integrations.
  2. Identify programs that will continue to be live after September 30, 2011.
  3. Work with your program’s associated tech resources to identify if program will be affected.

Facebook Security Update FAQ

Why is this happening?

Facebook has recently been the subject of many concerns about the level of security around the exchange of personal information with applications. This is an effort by Facebook to shore up their interfaces to prevent any exploitation.

Is this optional?

Unfortunately, Facebook has made this non-optional. Historically, Facebook has basically had the approach that changes like these have been part of the ‘cost of doing business on Facebook.’ They move fast, and expect you to also.

What will be affected?

Any application on:

  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Canvases
  • Non-Facebook site (minisite, client’s .com) using Facebook Connect

and using:

  • IFrames
  • OpenGraph
  • Facebook SDKs
    • Official
      • PHP
      • Javascript
    • Unofficial
      • Java
      • .NET
      • Ruby
      • Etc.

What will not be affected?

  1. Much older FBML applications – predating IFrame switchover.
  2. Site integrations limited to Facebook Social Plugins (Like buttons, Send buttons, etc.) that don’t do deeper Connect/OpenGraph integration.

What changes need to be made?

All applications must have valid SSL certificates and be configured to use HTTPS. This requires acquiring certificates and working with associated IT resources to install on the servers where the program is hosted. These certificates cannot be “self-signed” and must work with any modern browser without it complaining.

Integration code must upgrade to OAuth 2.0 and associated new Facebook authentication:

  • Apps using PHP SDK update to latest official Facebook PHP SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using Javascript SDK update to latest official Facebook Javascript SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using other SDKs must update in whatever manner appropriate.

In the Facebook developer console, under “Settings -> Advanced”, enable “OAuth Migration”.

What do we do if our app is hosted by a social app vendor (Involver, Buddy Media, Wildfire, Vitrue, etc.)?

Reach out to the vendor and ask them if they have a plan in place for the “Facebook OAuth 2.0 and SSL changes”.

It might be an annoying change to have to make but it’s nice to see Facebook putting some thought into privacy protection. What are your thoughts on the upgrade?

Facebook Apps Can Now Ask For Your Email Address

According the the Facebook Developers blog, Facebook is now granting developers on Platform the ability to request (or require) users to hand over their email addresses. By doing so, developers can begin sending periodic messages directly to users.

This actually doesn’t come as a surprise: Facebook initially talked about e-mail requirements last October and has kept developers updated on the timing in its Developer Roadmap. All of that said, this is a big deal!

Up until now, Facebook applications have used the notifications window (that slide up panel in the bottom right hand side of the screen) to engage users on an ongoing basis. Facebook is removing that functionality in the next thirty days. Moving forward, Facebook will no longer be the gatekeeper for communications between developers and users.

In order to collect Email addresses, Facebook developers will prompt users through an extended permission box. For those concerned with potential spam, they can elect to only share a proxied Email address – similar to the ones you can get when posting items on Craigslist.