Sunday, June 12, 2011

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.