With over 50,000 Facebook applications currently in existence and more being developed daily, it’s becoming more difficult for your app to stand out in the crowd. The functionality of an app largely determines it’s success, yet the integrations points help ensure it’s visibility and viral nature.
The Facebook Application Platform includes integration points into Facebook Profiles, which, when understood and used correctly provide a seamless user experience between a Facebook application and a Facebook user. The more integration points used, the more engaged an application and thus the more the app is immersed and spread on Facebook.
While it’s important to understand all of the integration points for Facebook applications, content and action integration points are generally the most important as they help lead to widespread adoption.
Application Content & Actions
The once controversial feeds have become a beloved and integral feature on Facebook. Feeds are arguably the most important integration point on Facebook as they allow applications to increase distribution through friend circles.
An application’s feed stories are distributed throughout Facebook via:
The user’s profile. The wall, which contains the content users have created and shared with their friends and what friends have shared with the users themselves.
The user’s home page. Similar to the profile page, new feeds syndicate on users’ home pages.
Canvas page. The application feed displays a feed of all the activities of the viewer’s friends on an application’s canvas page.
Apps can publish to either a user’s or a user’s friends’ feed, enabling apps to leverage a user’s influence within their circle. A good feed story should captivate a user’s friends and should be written in the voice of the user, reflecting their current actions.
There are 2 types of feed stories for an application: one line and short sizes. One line feed stories exist as a single line and appear only on the wall on the user’s profile.
Short feed stories on the other hand are formatted with templates and allow for a small amount of text and media. The media can consist of an image, MP3, video, or a SWF file.
It’s generally best to use a combination of the 2 feed story types based on the importance of a story.
Notifications are items sent by an application to a user’s notifications page in response to some sort of user activity within an application. Due to abuse of this feature, apps can send no more than 40 notifications in a given day. Facebook is hoping this limit encourages more quality notifications and encourage users to send notifications to interested friends. Therefore, it’s important that notifications are relevant and include call to actions.
User Generated Content & Actions
The profile box provides a space for apps to represent itself on a user’s profile – of course this is only if the user’s opts to. Therefore approach the profile box as a way for a user to represent themselves via an app rather than a place for users to digest app content. Profile boxes are most engaging when they showcase recent actions of a user with their friends or an application.
The Publisher feature is way for an application’s users to create content for their feed or their friend’s feeds. The main advantage is that the Publisher enables users to create/upload rich content directly from their profile. The ability to publish content from the homepage versus an application page, removes barriers to use and increases engagement.
Similar to social bookmarking, Facebook bookmarks are a great way for users to maintain engagement with an application. If a user has bookmarked an application, it will appear in the Applications Menu on the bottom left side of the user’s Facebook profile, which gives the user an easy way to access an application.
A bookmark URL should be provided so users can easily save the application and have it appear on their menu. Bookmarks can be configured in the Canvas page settings.
Understanding the key integration points will help ensure that your Facebook application isn’t lost amongst the 50,000 other applications all vying for user’s attention. These of course are tactics that need to be tied to a larger application strategy or social media strategy for that matter.