Effectiveness of Facebook Apps as a Marketing Tool

March 10th, 2008 | Categories: design, launch, marketing, markets, networks, social media, strategy, trends, widgets

[Effectiveness of Facebook Apps as a Marketing Tool] - A little while back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer or blog about. The first one I’d like to tackle was submitted by Mark Evans, who blogs at MarkEvansTech and serves as Director of Community of Canadian-based start-up PlanetEye. Mark wrote:

“What’s your take on the effectiveness of Facebook apps as a branding/marketing tool?”

My cliched first thought was, “Good question”. After giving it some further time and Facebook new logoconsideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a whole, Facebook apps are not a great marketing tool. Obviously this is a generalization and apps may prove to be a successful strategy for some companies. Let me explain my logic…

It’s all about perception.

Branding and positioning are an important part of any online strategy. Subsequently, solidifying status and credibility within an industry is essential. Still with me? The recent onslaught of Facebook apps has saturated the “marketplace”.  A lack of management on behalf of the social network has driven many to utter frustration with the highly-touted platform.

For this very reason, I think that the introduction of a Facebook app may be more detrimental than advantageous, in some cases, unless extreme caution and delicacy are exercised. A suitable Facebook app would have to provide compelling value and utility. Furthermore, there would have to be a certain level of fit with the exposed community of users.

My guess is that a majority will disagree with this train of thought, but I’m just giving my take on the situation.

In all honesty, I think that most apps are being created for amusement purposes - not as branding vehicles.  The ability to “poke” someone or write on their “FunWall” is great, but these dominant apps may reflect negatively upon your company if you are trying to portray a more professional, sophisticated image.

Jumping back to August 2007, I wrote a post about the short-term success and long-term failure of the platform. I still believe much of that post to be true. The effectiveness of apps has decreased significantly due to the surge of entrants.

I think that more users are starting to see things the same way as I do. For the most part, Facebook apps are more of a hassle than they’re worth.  They cause huge amounts of clutter and force users to scroll down long profile pages to find what they’re looking for. They’re also very distracting at times. What I find most annoying is the increased page load time. In other words, unless you’re creating an app for pure amusement or you happen to be in the business of “fun”, then Facebook apps are likely to be a poor marketing tool unless a cautious, very well sought out strategy is executed upon.


  1. Paul Says:

    The Washington Post’s app called “The Compass” might be an interesting case study on this topic. They had a lot of hype when it was first released; however, it has lost much of that popularity.

    Although we don’t have any hard numbers to say whether or not the projected helped their brand, from all the negative comments on the application’s wall (http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2376704994&ref=s) one might conclude that it was detrimental to the brand.

  2. Nick Says:

    While the apps may be annoying, from a marketing stand point, they can be VERY profitable. I’ve seen stats from a large CPA company showing the return on banner ads placed within the apps. At one point, a very basic app was doing well over $2000 a day in CPA commissions. Not bad for something that probably took a couple days to write.

  3. Jay Martin Says:

    Also new adserver technology that can leverage the user’s profile information and auto optimize ads for profitability based on similiar user’s ad click-thru rates/conversions etc should help boost profits.

    It’s all about targetting the right offer to the right people.

    Facebook themselves run many of their CPM ads in the apps areas. Farmtown and many others are the top referrers on traffic we buy there.

  4. Bob T Says:

    Most are, but they don’t have to be annoying. I just put one up that allows “fans” to find and invite FB friends with a similar interest. The idea was to make it easy for customers and others to make referrals based on their friends’ FB “likes”. Too soon to comment on effectiveness.

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