Monday, June 13, 2011

To Shanghai from Shikoku, boat or plane?

Found out that at lowest it costs 17360 yen to fly from Takamatsu to Shanghai and back (return ticket), by china-sss. Their homepage advertises "4100 yen". So kind of like Ryanair, all kinds of hidden fees you only see after going further in the ordering process.

Boat return ticket for Osaka - Shanghai for comparison is 33000 yen at Shanghai Ferry.

Brainstorming #1: Fan of the Day for Facebook Pages

I want to brainstorm a few ideas today with the goal of releasing at the end of the week, start working on something in the evening. So here's #1.

- Which page owners the app is for:

Any pages which want to grow their fanbase.

- What benefit those page owners get from adding the app:

Encourages more people to fan your page by daily picking a random fan as "fan of the day".

- Rough sense of how the app might make money:

Basic version free, enabling extra options costs something, custom tier for big companies that costs more and provides email support and custom features.

- A somewhat scalable way of reaching those page owners

Default feature in free version will be to post "fan of the day" message into the page feed and that message will also include a link to the tab, that should make the app spread quite nicely even if I just put it on my own pages. I might get some friends to add it and could at least mention it on HN or some forums to get the initial amount of users.

- Rough screen sketches of how it would work.

Update After some searching, I found out that it's impossible to get list of page fans so this idea is actually impossible in the described form. Maybe I should add "is possible" to the list of idea requirements :)

Update Figured out a way to make it possible after all. Can't pick a totally random fan, but can pick one if they interacted with the page. Coded up the app, read more here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ways I could reach owners of Facebook pages

In my last post about Facebook pages apps I wrote about why I feel they are a nice opportunity and defined what I mean by an idea for such an app, so this time I want to come up with one such idea.

I feel the most difficult part is a way to reach page owners. Therefore I should start brainstorming from that part, because it's the best filter for unworkable app ideas.

Page owners I might be able to reach:

- A tiny number of iOS app developers through my Chrome Extension iTunes Connect Fix.
- Startup founders due to being an active participant on Hacker News and #startups on Freenode. Many would have their own Facebook page, but many seem to be a bit anti-Facebook, so there would be a bit of backlash if I try to promote to them.
- Agents for movie stars probably could pay something to enhance the actors' Facebook pages, there are also some good keywords to target them.

Obvious places to get constant streams of users with $$$: Facebook / Google ads. A bit more involved but possibly better bang for buck: contacting bloggers to try to reach their audiences. "You are always renting someone's audience, if not a blogger's audience, you are paying Google to rent the audience of their search", as someone clever said on Hacker News.

Promoting the page app on the page app itself would also be useful, but probably only doable well if it's freemium, I doubt people would tolerate very overt advertising in a paid app. It might work really well if it's something you could put on any page. Hmm... actually I think I just got an idea!

Now should I go ahead and just code it in a mad spurt or try to brainstorm some more. I'm entering that "ooh new idea, me loves" phase.

Facebook pages apps

Strangely the only project I currently have that is showing any growth is Memeface, a site where you can mimic popular rage faces with your webcam. I enjoy improving on it, because I'm a big fan of rage faces myself and I feel more comfortable making big changes to the site because it's not a very serious project. However that project will clearly never reach the kind of pageviews it would require to make money on a low CPM site like that, so I'll have to think about other things too.

Currently the most accessible opportunity I see for a sole developer is apps for Facebook pages or perhaps apps that somehow work over email as it is a very powerful but maybe a bit underappreciated channel for growth. It's a lot easier to come up with ideas for Pages apps, so I've mostly been thinking about those. It seems not every niche is filled yet. There don't seem to be that many apps for them yet. Bar is a lot lower than for game apps, because Pages apps usually don't require a lot of content (graphics/sounds/scripts). It's a lot easier to see how to monetize them. Probably a freemium model would work very naturally and from a Facebook pages app designed for a company it is a lot easier to charge for features.

I worry about marketing the apps. For games / entertainment it's easy to let the word out, as almost anyone is a potential user, but an app only useable for people that have pages about certain things is relevant only to a much more limited group. Last week I spent making a Pages app for Airbnb Listings, only to realize after pushing it to the production server that I have no idea how to naturally reach Airbnb hosts to get them to make use of the app. I found a few dozen hosts on Facebook and tried to send them direct messages about the app, but couldn't really do it in away which would feel natural.

So my definition of an "idea" for a Facebook pages app should cover at least:

- Which page owners the app is for.
- What benefit those page owners get from adding the app in the form of a pitch for those people.
- A somewhat scalable way of reaching those page owners!
- Rough sense of how the app might make money.
- Rough screen sketches of how it would work.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Airbnb Listings

Released the first version of my "Airbnb Listings" app. It lets you list your Airbnb properties on your Facebook page, so that more people can find them easily. You can install it here.