More and more companies are relying on Facebook Pages to connect with their fans, but App.net CEO Dalton Caldwell says there's something missing: A simple way to connect those Pages to a company's smartphone apps.
For example, the Facebook Page for mobile startup Foursquare has more than 700,000 fans and plenty of content, yet there's no direct link to download the Foursquare app. Now, it's not exactly a huge challenge to track down an app, but as hundreds of thousands of apps jostle for attention, any obstacles to downloads and usage can make a big difference. So App.net just announced a service that adds a tab to customers' Facebook Pages, one that links directly to every version of a mobile app.
The startup has already signed up some early customers for the Tab feature: The film The Muppets, which created a tab to promote the Tap Tap Muppets mobile game; music video site Vevo; and music magazine Billboard, which used App.net to link to the Billboard Charts app. (Billboard, like Adweek, is published by Prometheus Global Media.)
Caldwell is already well-known in the startup world. He founded imeem, the music startup that was eventually acquired and shut down by MySpace in 2009. His next project was picplz, a mobile photo-sharing app. Eventually, Caldwell spun picplz out into a separate company, so that his team could pursue what he saw as a bigger opportunity: Building the marketing and monetization tools that he wanted himself as a mobile developer. The first product was a customizable landing page for mobile apps, making it easier for developers to point curious users to one place where they can find a link to every version of an app.
The Facebook Tab is only the first step in how Caldwell says he wants to integrate with the social network. Facebook could be the key to giving mobile apps the viral growth that led to social gaming hits like Zynga's FarmVille and CityVille.
In another example that's probably closer to his heart, Caldwell says he's been impressed by the growth of Spotify—growth he attributes to the music startup's integration with Facebook. Caldwell's goal? To use Facebook to build that viral infrastructure for mobile apps.