Facebook Application Basics

Meg Davis  

February 18, 2011

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Does your company have a Facebook page? Does your company have a Facebook application? Do you know the difference?

A Facebook page is designed to serve as the "profile page" of a company or entity. It displays the information about the company and allows people to "Like" the company. A Facebook application takes all that a step further and allows the Facebook user to interact with the company through a game or small interactive wizard. An application can then engage the Facebook user through posts, notifications, and other proactive communication strategies. The distinction between the two is blurred, because a Facebook application can actually be embedded inside a Facebook page.

In fact, there's two ways a Facebook application can be displayed on the Facebook platform:

A Facebook application can engage with a Facebook user who has downloaded the application by leveraging that user's information and activity on Facebook to personalize the experience of the application. Beyond basic information, including locale, country, and age, an application must get permission from the Facebook user to access other information:

Personalization is one way to engage users on Facebook. However, the most engaging applications on Facebook rarely use this personal information to make the user experience interesting and captivating. In fact, these applications are so engaging because they enable Facebook users to share information, games, messages, and experiences with their existing social network of friends. There are various ways that an application can foster this social sharing:

That is the 101 on how Facebook applications work, but what are the interaction considerations you should keep in mind before designing a Facebook app?

 Ask yourself.
.     "What can we do on a Facebook platform that we can't do with the current website?"
You must use rich media and small amounts of text to engage people. You must interact with the user in a personal way and reinforce your brand.

.   "How will we draw people into our application?"
You must provide ways for Facebook users to virally spread your application. If that means incentivizing current users to refer friends, do that.

.     "Who are we reaching on a Facebook platform that we aren't reaching on the current website?"
You must consider how your audience differs on Facebook. If you are a B2B brand, what does it mean to connect with an end consumer on Facebook? Your language and imagery can completely change.

.   "How will we keep people coming back to our Facebook application?"
How many times have you seen users "liking" a company or application once, only to never visit it again? You must offer dynamic content and something of value to the user through your Facebook application. Give them something fun to do with your application.

Tune in for some more Facebook application thoughts in the coming weeks. Happy Facebooking!