New Facebook Design: Running the Numbers on Applications

Over the past few weeks there has been some debate going on about the overall impact of the new Facebook design. Scott Rafer declared the Facebook platform dead earlier this week. I had previously posted numbers suggesting that Facebook widgets were most likely dead as well.

Prior to the launch of the new design I decided that it was time to start doing some number crunching of our own at AllFacebook. How much number crunching exactly? A lot! I’ve been tracking thousands of the top applications for over two months now to track what the effects of the new design has been and the numbers are interesting.

There were a few days where my tracking got messed up so I had to backfill those days but even still the data is pretty accurate. Given our sample size of around 4000 applications, I’d say our margin of error is relatively low. Unfortunately I haven’t crunched all the data to calculate our exact margin of error but I’ll let you figure that out if you’d like on your own time!

Below, I’ve provided 3 charts that calculate the average number of monthly active users among a subset of applications. There are three sets that I analyzed for this study: the top 50 applications, the top 500 applications, and the top 1500 applications.

There is a ton of reports that we could produce based on this data, but I figured that it was more important to get out our initial findings and then produce other interesting reports in the future.

Findings of Our Study

So here’s a summary of the initial findings:

  • When calculating the average number of monthly active users among the top 50 applications. The top 50 applications have gone from an average of 3,994,223 monthly active users to 3,835,430 monthly active users accounting for a 0.39 percent decrease overall.
  • When calculating the top 500 applications, we found that the average monthly active users had dropped 13.4 percent from 637,807 to 552,343.
  • When calculating the top 1500 applications, the numbers become much more dramatic. The average monthly active users for the top 1500 applications has dropped 15.6 percent from its peak toward the end of September.

Charts

-Top 50 Applications-

-Top 500 Applications-

-Top 1500 Applications-

Conclusion

The new Facebook design began rolling out on July 20th, but not until the end of September did we begin to see a decrease in application usage. Part of that has to do with the application statistics essentially being a 30 day moving average so there is a delay in monthly active changes. While the averages don’t help to explain the extreme changes that some applications have faced, it does help to paint a more general picture on the state of the Facebook platform.

Not All Applications Are Created Equal
Slide FunSpace for instance has experienced a 30 percent drop in their monthly active users since a peak in early September. Causes on the other hand has jumped 394.5 percent since the end of August. iLike, the other member of the “Great Apps” program, has grown only 15 percent since the end of August.

Total Impact Not Yet Determined
Since the Facebook redesign only became final earlier this month, it will still take a few weeks to determine what the net impact has been. Additionally, once users begin to understand how to access applications, we may start to see a growth in applications. Ultimately, it will takes weeks if not months for everything to shake out.

New Design Has Negatively Impacted the Average Application
There is no doubt that a large number of applications have been significantly damaged by the new Facebook design. Our findings that the average number of monthly active users among the top 50 applications, illustrates perfectly though that there is still room to succeed. Obviously users were confused by the new design but it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to use the applications.

Average applications will produce average results but breakthrough applications could still transform the Facebook experience.

New Design Requires New Strategies
Since not all applications have been negatively impacted, we can conclude that new strategies are required for success on the platform. Causes is the prime example of success on the new platform. While we have yet to analyze what is required to succeed under the new environment, we can definitively state that there is potential for success.

More to Come
Over the next few weeks, we will be working to provide a more in depth analysis of the state of the Facebook economy. If there is any other data that you would like us to produce, please let us know!