There are no doubt plenty of developers out there hoping their app will hit the big time. Based on some recent recommendations put forward by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), however, they might want to reconsider what they're doing and focus instead on a new goal: having their app hit users' Timelines.
Facebook sometimes seems forever to be in a state of reorganizing the way information is displayed on individual accounts. A few months ago the social media giant decided that the best way to allocate space for apps on its platform was to introduce what sections, which will categorize apps based on utility or content. It has since followed this up by offering a set of best practice guidelines on its developer blog, which gives us some ideas about how to use sections. Already there are plenty of well-used sections such as Music, Books and Fitness, but Facebook expects to see many more. In fact, it is offering developers the opportunity to create custom sections, pending the usual sort of approval process.
"Sections are also a more beautiful and lasting way to display your app on timeline compared to aggregations, which we are no longer supporting," Facebook's Ash Wahi writes in the post. He goes on to suggest focusing on "quality and completeness" before submitting sections and notes that adding URLs on apps will make it easier for users to add them to their Timelines.
Given the success of countless developers in using Facebook as a place for consumers to enjoy their apps--there have been suggestions recently that social is doing even better than search in this regard--offering the chance to create custom sections should be considered a huge deal. Feel free to steal a few of these possibilities (assuming they don't already exist by the time this is published):
- Victories: A place where users can showcase their best scores on your gaming app, along with others they may be using on Facebook.
- Money: There are plenty of calculators, stock tickers and other tools consumers are using to manage their finances through a smartphone. Simplify the process of accessing them.
- Milestones: There will be plenty of photo-sharing apps and related sections, but what about something that allowed you to easily share and showcase moments like weddings, births, graduations or journeys taken?
- Masterpieces: As Facebook pointed out, Opentable created a custom app where users can share restaurants they've visited and liked. What about a place where they could do the same with museums they've visited, tours they've taken or just street art they photograph with Instagram?
- Characters: Let users show off the war heroes, space aliens and other personalities they've temporarily taken on when they've played all manner of strategy and role-playing mobile games.
These, of course, are just ideas, and they could no doubt be improved upon by someone dealing with a specific app. The point, as Facebook suggests, is to "make your app a core part of people's identities online." Sections will be like a badge someone's willing to wear because he finds value in what you've created. You can't get much better user engagement metrics than that.--Shane