New data on Facebook application virality

Facebook has unveilved new valuable marketing data to application developers that show which channels inside Facebook lead to the most application installations. While the stats are not perfect, they do provide new insight into how your Facebook users find and add your application.

The new feature, called “Application Adds by Facebook Referrer,” can be accessed from the “More Stats” page for your applications and clicking on the number of adds. Application Adds by Facebook Referrer provides install stats from the following channels:

  • Product Directory – how many users found your app in the application directory
  • Profile Box Add Link – the standard link Facebook places in the top right of your profile box
  • Add Application News Feed Story
  • Mini Feed Story
  • Facebook Search
  • Requests Page
  • From within your App – how many users clicked content within your profile box or another canvas page that led them to install your app

Here’s a sample stats page from a friend’s application. While the relative importance of viral channels will depend on your application, the vast majority of this app’s installs (over 80%) come from within the app or the profile box, while very few come from Facebook Search, Mini Feeds, or Requests.

The Product Directory actually drives more installs than I would have thought, though the Add Application News Feed Story drives less than I would have expected.

Kudos to Facebook for providing this first step toward an integrated marketing dashboard for Facebook app developers. This kind of data is extremely valuable as developers seek to optimize their apps to spread inside Facebook.


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Leave a Reply

38 Responses to “New data on Facebook application virality”

  1. Facebook Newsfeed, Not the Primary Source of App Installs - The Unofficial Facebook Blog says:

    [...] Smith just posted an interesting article about Facebook revealing new application statistics to developers. I went [...]

  2. Leigh says:

    So, what would be clasify the “invite a friend” feature that the apps have under…? I assume much of the traffic comes from that non?

  3. dave mcclure says:


    this is incredibly awesome data… great stuff :)

  4. Basic Thinking Blog | wie verbreiten sich Facebook-Applikationen says:

    [...] das anzeigt, über welchen Weg ein User eine Facebook-Applikation installiert hat, hierzu Inside Facebook: The new feature, called “Application Adds by Facebook Referrer,” can be accessed from the [...]

  5. Facebook application install statistics « naveen’s weblog says:

    [...] — Naveen @ 12:17 pm If you’re into facebook app development, you’ll find this data to be extremely interesting. Thanks [...]

  6. Jon says:

    “the Add Application News Feed Story drives less than I would have expected”

    I’m not so sure the Add Application News Feed can be so easily discounted. Myself when I see it show up in the news feed I’m more likely to go and see the profile page of the friend that installed the app to see what the app does than to add the app from the feed. If it looks interesting then I’m more likely to click the Profile Box add link

  7. Usersky Daily News Network » How Do Facebook Apps Spread? says:

    [...] Inside Facebook reports that Facebook has added new metrics for app developers to track the spread of their application. The new “Application Adds by Facebook Referrer” displays how many application ads were a result of the app directory, the profile box, the news feed, the mini feed, Facebook search, or requests. These stats will certainly be helpful for app developers to gauge the best way to market and promote their apps, and whether their marketing campaigns on Facebook ad networks like Social Media are worth their time and money. But just how most Facebook apps spread is likely to remain hazy until more data can be gathered from multiple app developers. Justin Smith has data from a friend’s application, which shows that the profile box is far and away the most popular channel for attracting new users to an application. Surprisingly, given the amount of press about how ingenious the news feed and mini feed are for spreading things virally, they do not factor nearly as much into the overall spread of this particular application. That said, Inside Facebook’s example is a very small sample size for one (undisclosed) application. As Smith notes in his post, “the relative importance of viral channels will depend on your application.” The Zombies app probably benefits more from requests, for example, because of the way it encourages people to invite users, while the Where I’ve Been app probably gets many installs from the profile box, and the Movies app likely does well in the product directory as a result of its prominence there. Would any app developers out there care to share some of their data? It would be great if Facebook would release data across the entire network in aggregate, but until that happens, if you want to share trends you’ve notice for your application. please do so in the comments. [...]

  8. Mrinal says:

    @ Leigh – great question!
    Justin – any idea where that goes? Especially when you think of the number of installs the early app guys got from partnering with the launch from unlimited invites….

  9. Wally says:

    Justin…great entry! I agree with you re: what you were surprized about…it would be interesting if all apps experience the same type of distribution, or if there is something inherent in the type of app (what it does, who is interested in that, etc.) and also design (how well viral aspects are built in) that will shift it from app to app. Wrr

  10. Justin Smith says:

    Leigh and Mrinal – I think Facebook usually calls invitations “Requests”…

  11. Nicholas Carlson says:

    Dear Facebook Insiders, I thought I’d drop a quick note to let you know that over at Valleywag Labs, we’ve developed a proprietary algorithm to solve all your problems. Our patented “Fanafi” algorithm — that’s short for “Find A Need And Fill It,” folks — uses machine-learning semantic-graph discovery technologies to extract the needs users express when they add your Facebook app. Come check it out.

  12. Virality on Facebook at TRENDWATCH DAILY says:

    [...] has recently released a new feature which allows application developers to actually evaluate the virality of their product. This allows [...]

  13. Kasi-Blog » Blog Archive » What is the best strategy - independent social network or Facebook application? says:

    [...] Facebook-Insider Justin Smith reveals, most of his users are suprisingly not being caught through the viral news displayed on the [...]

  14. WebNotes » La viralité des applis Facebook : nouvelles statistiques says:

    [...] Inside Facebook vient d’annoncer la sortie d’une nouvelle fonctionnalité chez le réseau social qui monte : les développeurs d’applis facebook ont  désormais accès à des statistiques détaillées qui leur permet de mieux comprendre comment a été installée leur application (depuis le répertoire, depuis le news feed, depuis une recherche sur le moteur interne, etc.). [...]

  15. Rachel says:

    There are several new hot aps taking off, here’s Facebook’s list of most popular apps:

    1. Crowd Cloud
    2. Starcraft Pride
    3. Srabulous

  16. Inderjeet says:

    Good find
    Really good info for me.
    can u tell me about any money making app for facebook.

  17. The Pageman says:

    @Rachel – you meant 3. Scrabulous?

  18. » Mashable has lame Facebook wish list says:

    [...] Top 40 list? We know now that most adds are from the Profile box. So again, most users won’t care what’s in the app [...]

  19. OpenSocial Factory says:

    OpenSocial Factory – Where social networking applicatios come to life!
    Are you in need of a custom Facebook application or an OpenSocial application for social network? We are happy to build even the most robust applications to help promote your company in the realm of social media across any social network.
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  20. VentureBeat » Myspace to introduce a news feed — will it be as good as Facebook’s? says:

    [...] more recent reports suggest that applications get more users from users seeing each others’ [...]

  21. VentureBeat » Myspace to introduce web-wide ads, a news feed, and private profiles says:

    [...] more recent reports suggest applications get more users from users seeing actions on their [...]

  22. Adora Lewis says:

    Do you know why the number of adds from the requests page is so low? From my own experience, I add most of my applications after someone requests me to do so.

  23. links for 2008-01-25 « Home is Where You Hang Your @ says:

    [...] New data on Facebook application virality (tags: Facebook statistics viral analysis marketing research socialnetworks SocialSoftware web2.0 application attention entrepreneurship internet markets networking productdevelopment traffic tools strategy socialnetwork SEO) Posted in Uncategorized. [...]

  24. Customize Facebook says:

    woo hoo! finally more data integration. With all the tools they are making avail, it gonna explode. and their new cell phone integration with facebook – its opens a whole new world

  25. Flavio about Business 2.0 » Blog Archive » Facebook Platform Hype is over. Does it matter? says:

    [...] applications and the increasing limits on the virality (no I’m not the inventor of this word, people have used it before) of facebook apps as imposed by facebook trying keep users unspammed and happy are making it harder [...]

  26. Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - I Want a Windows App Store says:

    [...] This reminded me that I similarly found another useful utility, WinDirStat, via a blog post as well. In fact when i think about it, a lot of the software I end up trying out is found via direct or indirect recommendations from people I know. Typically through blog posts, tweets or some other communication via a social networking or social media service. This phenomenon can be clearly observed in closed application ecosystems like the Facebook platform, where statistics have shown that the majority of users install new applications after viewing them on the profiles of their friends. [...]

  27. Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - The 3 Laws of Platform Adoption: Why Developers Choose Platforms and What it Means to You says:

    [...] have begun to offer which augments the reach of the platform. The Facebook platform offers several viral distribution mechanisms for applications which enables applications to get noticed by end users and spread organically among users without [...]

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  35. Alan Bowers says:

    Useful article, thanks. We have tweeted.

    The Team
    New App Idea | App Idea Development

  36. Facebook Developers says:

    Any one tell me why face book install new data in face book to check the statistic of any application.

  37. facebook application says:

    Blogs are so interactive where we get lots of informative on any topics nice job keep it up !!

  38. Facebook Newsfeed, Not the Primary Source of App Installs - AllFacebook says:

    [...] Smith just posted an interesting article about Facebook revealing new application statistics to developers. I went [...]

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