Liveblogging from Inside Social Apps, New York: Fireside with Facebook’s David Fisch

We are in New York for the Inside Social Apps conference at the New Yorker Hotel. Manager editor of Inside Network AJ Glasser sat down with Facebook’s Director of Platform Partnerships David Fisch. The following is a paraphrased recount of the conversation.

Glasser: How is Facebook addressing issues of mobile app discovery?

Fisch: Most of discovery to date has happened through app stores, and I think what we’re hearing from developers today is that new discovery channels are going to have to emerge. This is front and center for us. The approach for us is to create good, free organic channels and paid channels as well.

Most of us have seen this problem before at web 1.0 companies, getting sites noticed. At first it was really difficult, and it wasn’t until we tapped into large portals and search that we started to see scale. Those things were great for acquiring users who were actively looking for you. Then came Facebook and social, and this began to change. Users started to get information pushed to them in the feed and that information and content was coming from friends, which is really powerful.

Mobile is really similar. With Open Graph and new paid marketing channels we can drive discovery.

Glasser: What does the shift to mobile mean for Facebook and developers?

Fisch: We’re very excited about the shift to mobile. Of a billion users, 600 million are accessing the service on mobile. Facebook and mobile really go hand in hand. Mobile is inherently social. People want to be in the moment sharing things they’re experiencing. Great experiences in life don’t happen at a desktop. Mobile applications are so perfect for social because what you do in life doesn’t happen at a desk.

We have seen a lot of developers use canvas to market to users for their mobile apps. It’s important for developers to integrate our SDK to get people to connect with their app with Facebook. With that, they can plug into the feed, notifications, App Center, paid channels like mobile app install ads. The combination of organic and paid distribution is really going to emerge in mobile, just as it has on the web.

A lot of developers who are building social applications are helping us get signals about how to get the most relevant app to the most relevant users. The Facebook ID is powerful because you can connect that and use it across all platforms.

Glasser: Are there differences in what you show to users accessing News Feed from different devices?

Fisch: News Feed is very sophisticated. We try to unify all channels and do some of that. For recommending specific applications, the onus is on the developer to give us the information that they have an application on smartphone and tablet, though we’re getting better at recognizing that ourselves.

Glasser: How do you make recommendations for users? Are the recommendations relevant or just random?

Fisch: They’re definitely not random. We look at games your friends play, and marry that with games you play and then make a recommendation. We’re probably not as great at surfacing relevant content to new users that haven’t made a lot of connections yet

Glasser: How important are ratings from friends or from an app store?

Fisch: A friend’s rating is very relevant, but if it’s not from friends, then it’s not. Another thing is that users won’t take the time to read reviews.

Glasser: How are apps changing on the Facebook platform, especially with the rise of mobile?

Fisch: Before Open Graph, it was clearly very concentrated by gaming developers. Now with Open Graph and particular on mobile, we have more entertainment and lifestyle apps.

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