New Viral Channel: Facebook Launches Chat Invite API for Applications

facebook platform developersFacebook has just released a new chat invite API that allows developers to let users send application invitations to their friends via Facebook Chat.

Here’s how it works:

  1. After embedding the fb:chat-invite FBML element, users will see a list of their Facebook friends that are online and available to chat. (Like with Facebook’s multi-friend selector, developers can choose which friends should or shouldn’t appear in this list.)
  2. Users select a friend to send a Facebook chat invite to.
  3. The recipient receives the invite through a Facebook chat message that pops up on their screen.

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This is a new viral channel that should convert very well for developers due to:

  1. The prominence of invite delivery. Unlike regular application invites, which go into the general requests inbox, chat invites pop up on the recipient’s screen instantly.
  2. The social pressure to respond to chat messages in real time. If your friend wants to talk to you and knows you’re online, it’s awkward to ignore them. The same dynamic will apply to application chat invites.

The new API should both make for new kinds of interactions in applications and lead to application growth. Now, users can invite their friends to play live games or participate in a discussion much more easily than before. For example, check out Pet Society’s “Live Gifts” in the screenshot above.

If you use iframes, Facebook says you can wrap this tag in some FBJS. Facebook also says there will be an XFBML version available soon.

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