Now that Facebook applications can be put on any website, the time is now to create an app, whether to promote a brand or for your own tactical reference.
This is intended as an introduction to researching, creating, launching, advertising, and making money from Facebook applications.
Researching your app
Be sure to do the proper research on your target market and Facebook users. FreezingHot wrote a post on Facebook stats, which makes for useful pre-development reading.
Your application should be:
1. Viral = users should WANT to invite their friends to join the app. Top Friends and Hobo Wars are great examples.
2. Exciting = an exciting or fun app keeps users coming back and creates a long-term retention rate.
3. Unique = there are plenty of applications out there, so make sure yours divides itself from the competition somehow.
Creating your app
There are a few options for creating an application. The most obvious is to code it yourself, but companies like Facebookster can build one for you. Websites like Clearspring can also assist with the coding process.
The Facebook Developers section has documentation, resources, and tools to help forge through the process of creating an app.
Launching your app
Some app require a dedicated server. If you're lucky enough for your app to get widely adopted and quickly, it can be difficult to forecast server demand. That’s one reason Amazon launched its AWS for Facebook Applications hosting.
I’d also strongly recommend tying your application to a website. With a website tie-in, you can capture brand search traffic in search engines for the application, as well as use the site for updates, news, community involvement, and an additional revenue stream.
Be sure to fully test your application. There is almost nothing worse than launching a half-baked app and frustrating early adopters.
Advertising your app
After ensuring your app is bug-free, you should:
- Install it yourself and invite your friends.
- Tell your friends to invite their friends.
- Contact relevant blogs and ask them to cover the app.
- Create a Facebook group and fan page.
- Advertise on Facebook.
- List the app in the application directory.
Monetizing your app
There are numerous ways to make money from your application. Insert affiliate links and banners from cj.com, sell private advertising, or insert ads from a network. Most ads should be placed on the app landing page, not within the app itself (though it seems acceptable to include a small sponsored link in the app on the profile). A specialized solution for making money from your application is fbExchange, which lets you trade, sell, or buy clicks from your application or others.
This How-To was written by David Rigotti of FreezingHot.com. Rigotti credits Luke from Kinoli, Virtual Marketing Blog and Free Shipping for inspiring the article.
Inside Facebook also posted data from Facebook developers regarding how much their apps make on a CPM basis.
Other resources: Deft Labs has built an analytics application for Facebook apps, and AdMob launched a mobile ad platform for them.
For a more technical walk-through of app development, distribution and management, view RockYou's PowerPoint presentation.