Facebook Tip #1 – Applications

In a previous post I promised a few thoughts about how you might be able to use Facebook as a marketing tool.

I should start by pointing out – There are no shortcuts in Facebook. Just because Facebook is a viral marketing phenomena, doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be just by experimenting with Facebook. As with anything, your business or brand has to remarkable if people are going to remark about it.

A few other key things to remember:

  • Friends is the key word – People are on Facebook to connect with friends. So any product or service that you offer has to be useful to users and their network of friends.
  • People are here to have fun – People go to Facebook to break up their day with a little fun, so whatever you do, don’t be too serious.

That said, the first thing that I want to look at is Facebook Applications.

Back in May, Facebook opened up their platform to outside developers could build mini-applications within Facebook . Which enables the kids like you and me to share them across your network.

Example Apps

Here are some of the most notable:

ilike.gifiLike – the music discovery website that has had exponential success by building a Facebook app. The iLike app lets you display and share your tastes in music to that of your friends, and be alerted for when your favorite artists will be in town. They’ve also added a fun ‘Music Challenge’ feature – a good procrastination tool if you need one. This app has been a huge success, with over 5 million users signed up since it was launched. And that was just over 2 months ago!

CouchSwap is one of the newer apps, but I think it’s one to watch, because it’s a fun app that lets you offer your couch to friends and travelers, or helps you find someone elses couch to sleep on.

zimride have released a carpooling app, connecting you to other people in your area to share car rides. The greenie in me loves this one, because it connects people together to help the environment.

Lending club allows you to borrow money from other Facebook community members, getting better rates then you would banks. This one is really interesting because it operates solely within Facebook.

The one thing that these applications have in common is that they are providing different ways to link people up within the Facebook community.

I’m not sure that a Facebook application designed purely to ‘sell’ things would work. The most successful facebook apps in my opinion will be the ones that:

1. Provide a real benefit to friendship networks.

I think that online renting websites like Rentoid, or book and CD swapping services would work really well in Facebook, because they are services that are useful for your friends.

2. Are part of an idea that people actually want to spread.

Word of mouth marketing 101 : If you want someone to sneeze your idea, the sneezer has to feel good about sneezing it.

3. Stand out from all the other applications.

There are now over 2,000 applications on Facebook – which means it’s not as simple as launching as application. Nick has a few suggestions on how others are spreading the word about their applications. You’ll need to be creative to stand out.

4. Aren’t overtly commercial or spammy.

Remember, Facebook is about friends, not over the top marketing campaigns. So whatever you do, don’t be overtly commercial, and don’t ever spam anyone, or your application is destined for the scrap heap.

Building your own Facebook Application

“So How do I build myself a Facebook App?”, I hear you ask. Well, you could teach yourself. But with a glut of Facebook app developers popping up, there’s probably no need. Whole businesses are setting up just to develop Facebook apps. In fact, there’s even market of Facebook App developers within a Facebook App. Mental.

Feel free to contact me if you need a hand getting started.