Modeling Facebook Application Growth with Appaholic

So, you’ve written an awesome Facebook app and you think it’s going to take off. You get five users, submit it to the directory, and because your application works well and has no bugs it gets listed within a few hour. You have an idea of how fast you think it will grow, but you really need to know how fast it actually is growing.

Using Appaholic, you can create accurate models of your application’s growth. If you’re growing too slowly, you need to know so you can fix the problems that are keeping users away. If you’re growing too fast, you need to know so you can move the application to a host that can accommodate it. You’d also like to be able to set goals and know if you’re on track. Will I have 1.2 million users within two weeks?

appaholic-page.png I’m going to use Booze Mail as my example app and Excel to plot the data. First, go to Appaholic and navigate to your application’s page by entering its name or application ID in the left-hand input box. You will be taken to a page that displays various statistics about Booze Mail’s growth.

boozemail-excel.pngWe’re going to be using the daily data because Excel doesn’t understand hourly time-based graphs. So, download the CSV (Daily) file from Appaholic and open it with Excel. Select the data you want to graph and click the “Chart Wizard” button. You don’t need to select the lines which have no user numbers — they correspond to the days before your app was listed in the directory.

Note: Make sure you only select date and number columns and not the column titles. Otherwise Excel won’t graph the data properly. In the Chart Wizard select the Line graph and click “next.” Customize your graph as you see fit and then click “finish.”

Now you have a nice graph in your spreadsheet. Right-click on one of the data points on the graph and select “Add Trendline…” Here you pick the curve you think best fits your graph. You will probably have to experiment to get the graph that fits best.

select-model.pngFor Booze Mail I’m going to choose a third degree polynomial model. I don’t think is really accurate over the long run — I’d guess that most applications follow a logistic growth curve. But fitting logistic curves to data is beyond the scope of this article, so the third degree polynomial will have to do.

Finally, to get the trendline to extend in to the future click the “Options” tab. You should see a “Forecast” section. For our graphs one period corresponds to one day. So if I want to predict my application’s growth ten days into the future I can enter “10″ in the “Forward” box. Since we want to predict Booze Mail’s growth by the end of July and today is the 15th I’ll extend the trendline 16 days into the future.

Click “OK” to graph the trendline. You might want to change the size and color of the trendline to make it stand out. Let’s see how Booze Mail is doing.


So, according to the graph, Booze Mail should hit one million users by July 25th. Anyone want to bet?


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Leave a Reply

12 Responses to “Modeling Facebook Application Growth with Appaholic”

  1. Patrick says:

    Come on Jesse. Just add this as additional functionality at appaholic so I don’t have to bother with excel.

  2. dave mcclure says:

    hey jesse -

    pretty cool article & congrats on a great service like appaholic.

    i wonder if there are other more granular metrics worth tracking than just app installs?

    app installation / active users is probably a decent acquisition & activation metric, but i wonder if it’s a good measure of retention / referral… seems like there are other components of the app which are more tied to those behaviors that would be worth measuring.

    in any case, this is great stuff… hope you continue posting on the subject!

    - dave mcclure

    ps – re: over/under on Booze Mail 1M milestone, i might project for a little slowdown, but i’d still hope for it to hit before aug 1st. i’ll plan to buy adam & joyce a REAL beer when they get there :)

  3. Franko says:

    I’ll take that bet. I bet Booze Mail is closer to 700,000 users by July 25th. Also, Excel is fine with charting the hourly data (at least the windows version is fine with it). Great post.

  4. Jesse says:


    Hrm, I’ll believe you about Excel since I’m no expert.

  5. seth goldstein says:

    i find it humorous that you are talking about appaholic without even giving props to sourabh niyogi and the rest of the socialmedia team that created appsaholic. come on jesse, be a mensch.

  6. Jesse Farmer says:


    I sent you a Facebook message.

  7. Franko says:

    July 25th, BoozeMail = 699,343 Users

  8. Rules of Thumb for Successful Facebook Applications | 20bits says:

    [...] apps they’re still compelling. You also have to be prepared to deal with your growth. You can model your growth using Appaholic to predict how many users you’ll have in a few days, weeks, or whatever. If it’s more than you [...]

  9. Justifying Your FB App | says:

    [...] Inside Facebook: Modelling app growth [...]

  10. Webanalyticsbook » Appaholic acquired by Altura Ventures says:

    [...] Facebook widget tracker Appaholic has been acquired by Altura Ventures. A good write up of the features of Appaholic can be found at Inside Facebook: [...]

  11. Daniel Collico Savio says:

    It should be more precise to model this sort of growth using S-curves (name it logistic curve or Richard´s curve, it´s the same).

    Modeling with S-curves means you assume you´d eventually reach saturation because your “food” (Facebook users) is limited and you´re competing with other apps looking after the same food.

    Hope this could be of any help.

  12. Jon says:

    An updated take on this model, with a downloadable spreadsheet:

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