How To Use Facebook Applications To Boost Your Fan Base

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By Nick O'Neill Comment

This is Day 13 of the 30 Days to 3,000 Fans program. You can learn more about the program here.
-Applications Icon-The Facebook platform presents an amazing opportunity for companies to expand their presence quickly by enabling viral distribution through the social graph. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that viral distribution does not necessarily mean more customers. Many businesses become easily distracted with mind-boggling numbers. “If I get millions of users to my application, I only need one percent to purchase my product!” Unfortunately things aren’t that simple, especially considering that most Facebook users are not ready to purchase at any given moment.

Engaging Your Customers Versus Engaging “Users”

Yes, you can end up with millions of untargeted users within Facebook applications but that won’t necessarily get you any customers, unless of course you are a large corporation. An untargeted application is almost as effective as a television ad except that you are gambling with the potential demographics. For example all of your users may end up coming from Turkey and Italy, so how is that going to help your U.S. based company? Anyways, you probably understand my point by now: untargeted applications are typically less effective than single, highly-targeted applications.

Why Create A Targeted App?

There is one thing that you want from visitors to your page: repeat engagement. If you can get fans to consistently return and participate in conversations on your Facebook Page, you will increase the level of personal affiliation with your brand. In the long-term, these users will eventually turn into customers. On Facebook the majority of users are not ready to buy a product right then. Instead, they are looking to build relationships and at some point in the future they are looking to buy something. By creating a targeted application you will accomplish two things: increase engagement and increase the viral nature of your page (if the application is built correctly).

What Are The Risks?

There are a few risks involved with creating an application. While I’ve written this as one day out of 30, the reality is that building an application requires the investment of relatively significant resources in comparison to the other days outlined in this guide. If you are a developer then you have the advantage of being able to build the application yourself although you will have to invest your own time. If you aren’t a developer, you are going to need to invest time to manage the project and money on the developer.

The bottom line is that there is no guarantee your application will pay off. Thankfully a few companies have already built applications that you can integrate right away into your Facebook Page right away with a very small investment. Involver has developed a suite of application that you can take advantage of and Wildfire Interactive has also developed some great tools that will help you launch promotions from within your page. If you want the best bang for your buck, I’d highly suggest working with one of these companies rather than building your application from scratch.

What Are The Options For Branded Apps?

So let’s say you are considering developing a Facebook application because you have a great idea. How much does it cost? A simple application can be as cheap as a few thousand dollars although the vast majority of branded applications cost tens of thousands of dollars. The price ranges and there isn’t a flat rate that you can tell people. You need to determine what your goals are first. Below are the various types of applications you can build:

Appvertisements

BuddyMedia, the New York based social media agency, essentially defined the concept of appvertisements. The model is pretty straight forward. Your company pays for an application and the invests in an install campaign. You will then have thousands of users visit your application but unfortunately there’s no guarantee users will stick around or return later. Most applications that use this model that I’ve seen tend to have a quick fall off of usage. BuddyMedia would most likely argue that repeat engagement isn’t necessarily the most important component as it’s a better investment over traditional media buys like television and newspapers where there is no engagement whatsoever.

Integrated Applications

Don’t want to spend money on a large install buy? You can have a custom application developed for your business instead. For this group there are two types of applications: those that are an experiment and those that are tightly integrated into the company’s website. For example one large e-commerce company I spoke to recently was looking to let users extend their existing shops to their Facebook profile and Facebook Page. That means there isn’t much promotion necessary as the application is an added value offering to the company’s existing customer base.

Experimental Viral Applications

I like to call this one more of an educated guess. Rather than investing in large install buys (upwards of half a million users at around $0.50 per user), brands often prefer to spend $5,000 to $50,000 on experimental applications that grow on their own. The best example of this is ConextOptional’s Kidnap application which has attracted over 3 million users and has upwards of 130,000 daily active users. The application was a great application that users enjoyed interacting with.

Integrated Page Applications

The last type of application is those that are integrated with Facebook Pages and are used to drive awareness of your Facebook page. That can include gifting applications, polls, and other basic applications that are extremely simple and used to drive traffic to your page. I high recommend opting for this type if you want to minimize your investment. There are numerous companies which currently offer applications that are integrated into Facebook pages. Use those companies to save time and save money.

Application Strategies

There are numerous types of applications out there but there are some great strategies you can use that will increase the likelihood of your success. I outlined 13 Facebook application strategies earlier this year that I recommend you checking out. I’ll also be providing more content in the near future on how to maximize the impact of your Facebook applications.

Daily Task

First of all you may want to consider whether or not developing an application is worth your investment. At the least you can use some readily available applications to build into your Facebook Page. Today’s task is to determine which type of application, if any, is the type you’d like to implement. Also brainstorm a couple of ideas for applications that you can launch. Set a date over the next couple weeks when you will have your application completed or at least under development.

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