10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth

So, you’ve got a great new facebook app, and you’re salivating at the prospect of unchecked viral growth? Well, who isn’t. Here’s a few tips on how to get as much traction as possible with your new app (in no particular order):

1. Spend time on your icons and screenshots – This is the first interaction your potential users will have with your app, so it had better be impressive, especially if you have competitor apps already out in the wild. There are three pieces to worry about: an application icon (16 x 16 pixels), an application logo (75 x 75 pixels) and a screenshot of any size you choose (which will be resized to the width of your About page). Make sure you have all of these ready to go before taking your app live. In particular, the screenshot should be a picture of your application in action, not just the logo again. You want your users to see the coolness they will accrue by adding your app–not an opaque logo which could hide an ugly app.

2. Spend time on your app’s copy - Users don’t read much, so you have to be smart in how you describe your app wherever it is advertised. You have the most space in your about page, but you’ll still want to be concise. Focus on how your app is different (better) than other ones, and point out the benefits of using it with exciting (but not over-hyped) language. More important is the copy which will be used in the various directories you’ll submit your app to. You have about 250 characters to wow the audience and win converts, so make your phrases tight and punchy. To be consistent, you can use this same text whenever you advertise your app, or share it with friends on Facebook.

3. Submit your app to the directories – There are two important directories to submit your app to. The most important is, of course, the official Facebook directory (found in your Developer app). To submit your app to this directory, it will need 5 users, though, so you may not be able to do it immediately. Also, be warned that it has been taking multiple days (my apps still haven’t shown up after 5) for apps to appear in the directory. There is also the unofficial New Apps directory, which is currently tracking about 100 apps, most of which haven’t made it into the official directory, with an increasing number of apps added every day. Submit your app here to gain some exposure with the early adopter types–and convince your friends to come vote for you there, so you can show up in the Top 10.

4. Time your release – be aware of the usage patterns of the social networks into which you’ll first be releasing your app (i.e., your friends’ Facebook-using habits). If you want your app to gain traction quickly, make sure people add it while their friends are online and browsing around with nothing better to do than add apps. The sooner you can break into new social circles, the better off your app is.

5. Communicate with users – set up a “Feature Request” thread and a “Bugs” thread in your app’s About page, and visit it often (though you’ll be doing that anyway to see how many users you’re getting). Squash any bugs your users point out immediately, and err on the side of over-posting in response on the forums. Users are more likely to use your product if it looks like you’re actively developing it and adding features. If users have specific problems, it’s appropriate to message them individually and let them know the problem has been resolved, or that you’re working on it. In a social network, the only way you’ll gain traction is via the recommendations of your current users to their friends, so make sure you generate a lot of goodwill.

6. Track your growth – from day 0, set a specific time each day to record the number of users your app has. As your app grows, this will be telling data. You can set up a spreadsheet with a few columns: Date, Time, and Current Users. Then you can create some formula columns that, for each row, give you information like how many new users you had today, and your rate of growth as compared with yesterday’s.

7. Get all of your friends to adopt your app – Don’t be heavy-handed about it, but send tactful messages to your friends, even ones you don’t normally talk to. It’s cool that you’re making an app for Facebook, and some might add it just because you’re their friend. Try and convince them to use Facebook’s “Share” feature to let their friends see the app. See who the biggest social butterfly in your friends list is, and focus on him or her.

8. Submit your app to InsideFacebook.com - in addition to general internet marketing for your blog, let us know about it. We profile a lot of apps, and are more likely to profile yours if you send us a descriptive e-mail–thankfully, if you’ve followed the above steps, you’ve already got some great copy and screenshots to send us!

9. Hang out in #facebook on freenode – If you’re an IRC chatter, hang out with other Facebook devs in #facebook. This is a good place to make connections, and to find devs who might be willing to test your app, and give you feedback. Even if you’re still in the idea stages, it’s a good idea to visit, since these devs have a handle on what apps are being developed already, and you may find your app idea has already been coded. It’s also cool to let others know when your app is released, as long as you contribute generally to the room as well. These folks know a lot about app usability issues, code issues, and what’s going on in terms of real-life Facebook dev gatherings.

10. Don’t be evil – It’s sad and frustrating when you release an app only to find that a similar one made it into the directory just a day before you, and now has thousands of users, while yours languishes at a mere 42. The temptation is there to hop onto that app’s About page and start a thread explaining how your app is better, how the other app’s devs are copycats, and all the rest. But don’t do this–it just leaves a sour taste in the mouth of any potential users who read it. Let your app’s merits speak for themselves through use. If a competing app has better features, add them to your app with some modifications, or think creatively about what’s lacking in your competitor’s app, and hurry to implement and advertise those. In general, don’t resort to lame advertising tactics. It will come back around as bad press sooner or later.

Well, there it is. I hope these are helpful tips for releasing your next killer Facebook app. I have found them to work well while developing and marketing my three apps. And remember, with a social network the size of Facebook, there’s room for all of us! Also, if you have any tips or tricks that I didn’t mention, please feel free to add them in the comments!

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Leave a Reply

25 Responses to “10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth”

  1. links for 2007-07-04 « Spartakan says:

    [...] Inside Facebook » 10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth (tags: development programming facebook) [...]

  2. Simon says:

    Enjoyed reading your article, and wanted to ask:

    I’ve set the icon (app settings) and screenshot (about page settings) for the application I’m working on, but where do I set the 75 x 75 logo? I assume it’s what appears in the ‘Share’ dialog, but I can’t find the settings for it…

  3. Jonathan Lipps says:

    Hi Simon. The 75×75 will be requested when you go through the app directory submission process! And you’re right, it’s what shows up in the ‘Share’ dialog and other notifications.

  4. Resources on How to Write a Facebook Application says:

    [...] 10 Tips for Releasing your Facebook Application, and Maximizing Growth [...]

  5. hajra says:

    great article, it really helps to understand the development process of a successful app, great to hear from someone who already did it.



  6. Lista de recursos para desarrollar aplicaciones para Facebook « Think Free - Linux.Php.Java.ME.Movies says:

    [...] From inside facebook – 10 tips on promoting your app [...]

  7. lazyhat says:

    You can also visit some of the “Facebook blogs” out there like this websites
    Contact them and they probably will write up an article for your app, or you write it.

  8. The Four Pillars of a Distributed Web Strategy | Relevantly Speaking says:

    [...] The best post that I’ve seen on Facebook App tips can be found on Inside Facebook. [...]

  9. Riz Nwosu says:

    I would like to submit my application for consideration called ‘My Record Label’.

    About My Record Label:

    My Record Label
    (The first record label owned & operated by facebook members)

    Welcome to My Record Label – Own the label and pick the acts

    50,000 My Record Label members are about to form a record label and sign their favorite unsigned acts. They will make history together, voting on artists to sign and on which singles to release and sell amongst other things. Members will attempt to guide the label and it’s acts up the charts, sharing equal ownership and control. Members become record executives, collectively guiding the careers of a newly signed acts and the future of a revolutionary idea in music business.

    Register now for FREE by adding the My Record Label application and become one of the 50,000 members who will shape the careers and futures of My Record Label artists.

    For artists and bands:

    * Create an artist page, upload your music and videos
    * Promote your My Record Label profile to fans and friends
    * Get fans to add you to their favorites
    * Get signed to My Record Label

  10. The Four Pillars of a Distributed Web Strategy says:

    [...] The best post that I’ve seen on Facebook App tips can be found on Inside Facebook. [...]

  11. Lori says:

    Good advice. Especially the logo creation part.

  12. Shane Thomas says:


    I enjoyed your article.

    I would like to submit my new application for you to review.


    This applications simply allows you to tell your friends that you had a crush on them at some point in time.

    If other friends tell you that they had a crush on you then the number of friends that had a crush on you is displayed to you.

    If you both mutually had a crush on each other and tell each other about it, then the name is displayed to each of the friends.

    This is my second application, and I am still in the process off adding new fetures, but it works very nicely.

    I launched it yesterday and it now has about 35 active users.

    I look forward to reading your review.



  13. Cadie Gail says:

    I’m very much interested in developing facebook applications for marketing cpa offers. I’m good at php/mysql web development. I’ve downloaded the php client library from face book too.

    But I’m confused as to where to start from. I cannot find any quickie tutorial or guide for a php developer to delve in to facebook app development. Any url please suggest.

  14. Antonio Ferraioli says:

    Very good!

  15. LISTDUB» 10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth says:

    [...] 10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth. Categories: Top 10 Lists Tags: applications, facebook, top 10 Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback [...]

  16. Jay Feitlinger says:


    I have an idea for a Facebook application and the funding but don’t have an experienced Facebook developer to work with. Any suggestions on who to contact to build my idea?


  17. facebook application developers says:

    Wow nice posting… you have a great tips for facebooker. Thanks for sharing this stuff

  18. Venkat Koduru says:

    Thanks for this post! I like this tips you give, and I’d just like to share one more. I’ve found that asking users who seem to enjoy your app to post a review helps a lot too. It’s not just the Review itself, it’s that when a user posts a Review, this Review appears on their news feed, so it provides one more opportunity for the user to share the app with their friends. I’ve also found that if you do a Facebook search for keywords related to your app and look through posts of other people who’ve including these keywords in their posts, you can often find people who have a genuine interest in an app like yours and then send them a direct message. I’ve tried using these techniques for my app: http://apps.facebook.com/upside_down_text/

    Hope this helps other developers : ) and if you get a chance please to try out my app and tell me what you think!

    -Venkat Koduru

  19. Ethos Blog » Blog Archive » 50 Resources for Facebook Application Developers from Kissmetrics says:

    [...] 10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth – An in-depth look at acquiring users and what kind of user base your application might need to sustain it. [...]

  20. Benny says:

    Your article is very inspiring!
    I would like to submit my new application for you to review.

    page: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/apps/application.php?id=115320098493219&ref=ts

    app: http://apps.facebook.com/cute-photo/

    CutePhoto helps to decorate your photos with our funny graphics. You think that your photos is dull? You want to make your photos like that from a photo sticker vending machine? What you need to do is just inputting your photos to our app via your facebook album, local drives or other tag photos.

    With the photo designer, you can choose different attractive stamps, frames or even make simple drawings in a second. When you finish, you can instantly post it on wall as usual.

    In the future, we will add supporting on web cam and make your photos into real gifts like T-shirt, cups, photo albums, bookmark. Hope you will enjoy the experience on CutePhoto!

    What are you waiting for? Try it now! It’s totally free and easy.

  21. Dave Walker says:

    Hi, interesting article! I think we’ve pretty much done all of the above, except that NewApps appears to be down now.

    We’d love any feedback on our app, good points, bad points, what we could do better etc.

    It’s called Odd Socks and is at: http://apps.facebook.com/oddsocks/

    It’s a game for all ages that is simply about making pairs of socks from those on your washing line. You can put some in your bin to make more space and invite your friends to come and use them.

    We’re not seeing much growth after several weeks, although there are some really dedicated players.

    We’d love a review and some clues on how to improve our growth.


  22. 50 Resources for Facebook Application Developers says:

    [...] 10 tips for releasing your Facebook application, and maximizing growth – An in-depth look at acquiring users and what kind of user base your application might need to sustain it. [...]

  23. Joe Ryan says:

    What about apps for business users of Facebook who have set up Fan Pages. My new app, eBusinessCard, lets users put a business card with a photo of themselves on their Fan Pages. What’s the best way to reach these folks in a hurry?

  24. James says:

    We were hoping you would do a write up about our application, we believe you might find it worthy.
    If not I appreciate your time reading this email.

    The name of your app: iwiPage http://www.iwipa.com

    A short description:A complete alternative to static FBML.
    Integrate your site with your fan page by placing a welcome tab and set it as the landing page.
    A website builder with support for Html, wysiwyg, iframe, javascript, flash and other languages.

    What you think the impact of your app will be on the Facebook community (i.e., why we should profile it!): We believe anyone that would like to build a website inside his profile or fan page to display anything from his blogs to their ecommerce store will love our app.

  25. Materace Koło says:

    Anyone here knows, how can I advertise my facebook application inside facebook? Is there the only one solution – to buy normal ads, those displayed on the right of facebook site? Maybe users are allowed to buy ads that are active apps displayed somewhere on facebook site and that can be targeted to any group of users e.g. users from given city.

    I searched for some ways to advertise but found nothing or almost nothing…

    waiting for You replay,

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