Custom Facebook applications are crucial for brands that run promotions on Facebook. The rules of the platform simply state that all promotions on Facebook must be administered within apps on Facebook.com, either on a canvas page or a page app. If you are about to launch an app of your own, have a look at the following tips we have picked up while developing Facebook apps for brands over the past couple of years. Some are no-brainers that are often forgotten, and some are quite specific, but all are useful to remember.
- Submit email: One of the no-brainers that often gets forgotten is this: After the user enters your app and completes the required action — completes a short trivia contest, for example — make them resubmit their email with a prompt: “Please resubmit your email. Your winning notice will be sent to this email.” From our experience, a large percentage of users don’t check their email addresses that they used to register on Facebook. Tracking down winners can easily become the most annoying and time-consuming part of the project, so make sure you get active email addresses. Optionally, you can set a deadline for when the prize can be claimed. There is a condition in some of the contests we have built that if the winner does not reply to the winning notice within one week, he or she automatically loses the claim to the prize, and a new winner will be drawn.
- SSL certificate: Permissions are a known drop-off point because many users don’t want to share their personal data with your app, and there is not much you can do about that. The thing you should not let happen is to discourage users by forgetting to check your SSL certificate. From our experience, users view permissions as less of a threat, because they are still within Facebook, but when they land on a page that reads, “This connection is not trusted,“ it will be very hard to get them to come back.
- Track your app with Google Analytics and something else: Facebook provides you with app insights and page insights, which provide data about your app and page and can give you an idea of how your app is used, but we also recommend outfitting your app with a Google Analytics tracking code for two reasons. First, if you are supposed to provide a comprehensive report of the campaign to your client, you need to have an alternative source of information in case Facebook insights are down, and second, to better track your conversions and goals. We often use our own tool called Star Social to spot most active fans and positively incentivize them to play.
- Track your ads, too: When you set up Google Analytics, make it work for you. To help Google Analytics categorize traffic to your app, use UTM (urchin tracking module) codes in your Facebook ads. You can build links with the UTM parameters with the Google Analytics URL builder. The campaign content parameter is useful when you have multiple ad versions because each can be labeled (ad1/ad2/ad3) and evaluated separately.
- Contest rules on a deep link: Once your app is live and the campaign is running, you will need to reference the rules of the game frequently. It will be useful for your support team to have the rules of the contest (and the winner authentication process) placed on a deep link that they can share and instantly help navigate users to the right section.
- Require real names, just like Facebook does: Facebook’s platform policy requires all users to use their real names on their profiles. When you make this a requirement in your winner authentication process, you will eliminate fake profiles from winning prizes in your contest. We often require that the Facebook name matches the real name, and we ship out the prize only to that person’s permanent address. Attractive prizes are a magnet for cheaters, so this is one simple way to cut them off.
- Find a hacker: The best way is to test any contest is to give it to a programmer and challenge him or her to get in and claim the main prize — preferably before you go live. He or she will most likely find a lot of loopholes and save you a lot of time and trouble later.
- Think mobile: Enough said.
- Budget for winner authentication and support: Set out a separate monthly budget for winner administration and support and do not touch it. When all is going well, it can look like you are not going to need so many hours for answering user questions, but these two things can blow up unexpectedly.
- And don’t forget about cookies: The default settings of the Safari browser do not allow third-party cookies, which can be an issue with Facebook apps, should they need the information stored in cookies. This setting can be changed, or you can work around it. Just remember to do it and always test thoroughly before launch.
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