UPDATED 16:17 EDT / APRIL 13 2009

Conversation: What it Takes to Succeed on Facebook

image Nick O’Neill over at AllFacebook has done some good work documenting the continuing fallout from Facebook’s most recent site re-design, particularly on how it’s affected app usage. Not surpisingly, there’s a lot of shakeup in the top applications, apps that were tailor made to succeed in the environment previously provided by the top social network:

While LivingSocial and Quiz Monster have become leading developers thanks to the recent changes, many top developers like Slide, RockYou, Familylink.com, and a number of others are getting punished. Many of the top applications have seen a decline in usage of between 15 and 25 percent. Causes, the number one application on the platform (at least for another day when LivingSocial should take the #1 spot), has experienced a 24 percent drop in monthly active users.

He provided some graphical support, as well, showing the popular app Cause’s rapid decline in usership:


As one of his commenters pointed out, though, it isn’t a huge surprise:

The recent redesign all but removed the exposure of applications, and made it so that people had to be very deliberate about using their favourite applications.

What this shows is that applications need to evolve to survive, and evolve quickly. The feed is more important than the utility of the app itself. Learning to leverage the feed (like Living Social has done) is going to be critical – at least until Facebook goes and changes everything again.

So what’s it take to succeed? Beyond just ‘leveraging the feed,’ it means that Facebook has finally put emphasis on an activity that actually brings value to both your app and any advertisers that may appear around it – engagement.

Just appearing in the feed doesn’t do you any good, and empty feed entries simply devalue the rest of the feed (remember Facebook’s feed crackdown?).

Creating entries that serve more than simple reminders that your app exist, but entries that engage and conversate with other users will help you spread virally.  Rather than speaking directly to just the friends of your users, conversing with them allows your apps to spread to friends of friends, and so on.

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