Examples of Great Applications
This section covers some of the many applications that exhibit the principles discussed in this chapter. The Causes application is one of the official Facebook Great Apps program winners. Graffiti is a great way to express and communicate with friends and LivingSocial has been one of the best users of the new stream functionality.
LivingSocial (http://apps.facebook.com/facebookshelf/) lets users keep track of what they are using, how they feel about it, and get recommendations by looking at what their friends are doing. It supports several common categories, such as movies, books, games, and beer. The majority of the application's value is based on a user's friends using it—the more friends that create reviews or say which books they are reading, the more useful content is available to a user. Figure 2.1 shows how LivingSocial helps users find new books to read.
Figure 2.1 The LivingSocial application displays book reviews from friends.
LivingSocial also makes effective use of the stream, letting users pick their Top 5 favorites in a given category and publishing a news story about it. These stories provide value, because friends can learn about new items, give their opinion, or create their own Top 5. Figure 2.2 shows an example of a news story from LivingSocial.
Figure 2.2 The LivingSocial application creates news stories displaying users' Top 5 picks for a category.
As a result of these News stories, LivingSocial has rocketed to the top, becoming the largest Facebook application ever, based on monthly active users. This demonstrates the importance of keeping up with changes in the Facebook Platform, such as the one from profile boxes to the stream.
Causes (http://apps.facebook.com/causes/) allows users to create communities around issues and nonprofits that matter to them, and easily recruit members and donations to join them in support. This application is a great example of providing value: It significantly lowers the costs of acquiring new supporters compared to traditional marketing methods. It also allows anyone to participate, with over one million registered nonprofits from which to choose. Figure 2.3 shows the impact one user has had on her favorite causes.
Figure 2.3 The Causes application displays each user's total impact.
Users not only get to help the causes they care about, but they also get social recognition for doing it. This is a great example of how applications can let users demonstrate their associations to their friends.
Graffiti (http://apps.facebook.com/graffitiwall/) enables an entirely new way of expression by letting users hand draw pictures and send them to their friends. This might seem insignificant at first, but after you marvel at the absolutely stunning entries in the drawing contents or see how users create birthday messages for each other, you will understand how important self-expression can be. Figure 2.4 shows a few of the top creations for the current week.
Figure 2.4 Users create amazingly detailed images using the Graffiti application
Graffiti has been around since the Facebook Platform launch, and it has stood the test of time. However, it has not yet embraced the new importance of using the News Feed as the primary application communication channel. It will be interesting to see how the application decides to take advantage of it.