The Longtail of Facebook

O’Reilly has published a new report covering the Facebook platform. There are definitely some interesting statistics in the report. 87% of the usage goes to only 84 applications on the platform and only 45 applications have more than 100,000 active users. Slide, RockYou and Facebook are the three largest application suppliers. The categories with the most active user bases are gaming, sports and messaging. The events and dating categories followed right behind.

For those looking to develop an extremely popular application, your odds are really low. While there is some impressive data, there is some discouraging information for those looking to build a hit:

Many people are familiar with Pareto’s 20/80 rule. As Ben Lorica notes, for Facebook applications, the rule can be restated as 74/1 or 87/2. The concentration of active usage in top applications is more extreme than Pareto’s 20/80 rule, with one percent of the applications generating 74 percent of usage and 2 percent of the applications generating 87 percent of usage. The top 20 percent of the applications generate 98 percent of active usage.

While discouraging, there is still an opportunity to build applications with a sizeable user base. The report suggests that the most important factor in marketing your application is to “optimize the Feed notification messages and application events that generate News Feed and Mini-Feed messages.” So yes, news feed optimization is still one of the primary factors in developing a successful application.

One other interesting finding in the report is that Facebook has not yet become the web’s operating system. This is not really anything new but the report suggests that the plaform runs the risk of competing with application developers. While not an immediate threat, the threat exists for the future. If you want to read more about the report, go check out O’Reilly’s post on the report.