Thursday, December 13, 2007


Last night I attended presentation of Facebook Applications created by students from a course led by BJ Fogg and Dave McClure. This class is an offshoot from BJ's Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford.

Here's the overview of the event from Facebook:

Join us for an evening of demos & insights from students in the Fall 2007 Stanford CS377W course: "Create Engaging Web Apps Using Metrics & Learning on Facebook" (aka The Facebook Class at Stanford)

Ten weeks ago, over 100 students packed a Stanford class about creating engaging Facebook apps. Instructors BJ Fogg and Dave McClure warned students that this new course would be risky -- lots of uncertainty and no proven way to teach the topic.

The 75 students who remained blazed new trails in using psychology and metrics for creating web apps. The statistics show their success:
* Over 10 million Facebook users installed Stanford student apps
* Over 1 million daily active users on the apps
* 5 student apps rank among Facebook's Top 100

This event will share what students learned about creating viral and engaging web apps for Facebook:

1. Learn about viral adoption on Facebook
2. Understand tradeoffs between virality and engagement
3. Find out why some apps succeed & others fail
4. Learn how 25 teams of students teams collaborated
5. Gain insight into techniques for app metrics & measurement
6. Watch live app demos by student teams
7. See why Facebook is the #1 persuasive technology of all time

So it was fun watching the students' presentations and cool to see how many of them learned from their initial failures and the adjustments they made that improved the reach and impact of their applications.

The stats on these students' success was impressive:

- 5 apps with 1 million+ users
- 10 apps with 100,000+ users
- 20 apps with 5,000+ users

Daily Active Users:

- 6 apps with 100,000+ users
- 10 apps with 10,000+ users

One interesting general statistic that they discussed about Facebook was how there are over 4.1 billion photos posted and 40% of click-throughs are on photos. This reminded me about some analysis of CyWorld's crazy growth in Korea a few years ago and one stated driver was how they allowed users an unlimited amount of photos to be uploaded. Whatever culture it seems that photos are key :)

Some takeaways for Facebook application developers were:
- Use one action to invite users
- Include a personal touch
- Enforce a minimum number of invites

Some of the applications were Love Child, Good Eats, Perfect Match, Send Hotness, Guess Who, and Photographs.

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