FaceReviews takes Sony to task for their Santa Snowglobe application. Sony had a good idea for a way to spread the Sony brand throughout Facebook, and then because of poor execution, was only able to achieve 450 installs during the holiday season. Rodney Rumford explains why.
At iotum we attempted the same strategy as Sony and also had with mixed results. To promote our New Years Eve FREE Conference Call, we built two small Facebook applications — New Years Party!, and Resolutions '08. New Years Party! allowed the user to send New Years greetings and small image "gifts" to friends which they could display on their profiles. Resolutions '08 allowed user to make and exchange lists of New Years resolutions with friends. From a mechanics perspective, the applications were basically identical, except that one application let you send graphics to your friends, and the other allowed you to exchange text strings (the resolutions were provided only as text).
New Years Party! was released on December 15, and Resolutions '08 on December 21. We promoted each with a small advertising budget on Appsoholic, and let viral spread do the rest. By New Years Day, New Years Party! had 62,000 users and was adding them at a rate of over 5,000 per day. In addition, 4,000 people daily were returning to the application to either look at the gifts they received, or to send gifts to others. It was maintaining a steady 13 to 15% engagement rate amongst users. In contrast, Resolutions '08, had achieved just 3,125 users, with only 165 daily new users and a 7% daily engagement rate amongst users.
- Predicting virality is hard. As my wife observed, we might have been able to guess that Resolutions '08 wouldn't be as viral because Resolutions tend to be private. On the other hand, millions of people make New Years resolutions every year, and do share them with their friends.
- Start early. New Years Party! was growing substantially throughout the entire Christmas period. If we had started two weeks earlier, we might achieved 200,000 installations, which would have spread our message even more effectively. And, with more time, we might have been able to tweak Resolutions '08 to make it spread more virally on it's own.
We'll do this again. It's definitely cheaper to write an application than it is to buy impressions.