The top games on Facebook typically do a good job of leveraging your network of friends to get users into the game, whether through invitations or you posting to your Wall (and thus the homepage stream) about reaching new achievements or passing a friend’s high scores. Applications also have the ability to post items into the user’s notifications, like the example at right, either triggered by a friend action (like Farm Town) or a straight promotional placement (likeTexas Hold’em Poker and YoVille) to all the application users.
While the notifications are powerful, users may find application notifications as an intrusion (expecting more personal things like “Friend Joe commented on your photos”) and this is exacerbated by lengthy application notifications crowding out the personal ones . Much like Twitter, marketers are hampered by the need to be brief yet still get their message across without irritating a user enough to opt-out.
Another notification platform available to application owners that isn’t as frequently used, but provides more flexibility, is the Fan Page/Application Wall page (NOTE: Applications began to have the ability to do the same thing as Fan Pages on May 20th). This allows the administrator to write a status, post a picture or a link and the status update shows up in the homepage stream for each of the application’s fans. Here is an example from Pet Society that went out on Monday:
Most marketers would salivate at the opportunity to tap into an audience that pro-actively chose to support their brand, yet barely half of the top twenty games have started using a Fan Page or the upgraded Application page and of those, only two have made more than four comments in the last 30 days:
|Rank||Game||Developer||Daily Active Users||Fans||Fans as % of DAU||Wall Updates|
|#4||Texas Hold’em Poker||Zynga||2,480,000||1,637,271*||66%||31|
|#8||Bejeweled Blitz||Pop Cap||1,100,000||221,351||20%||3|
|#10||Barn Buddy||The Broth Inc||544,000||66,861||12%||none|
|#14||Happy Farm||Hooma Lee||396,000||3,032||1%||none|
|#16||Mob Wars||Psycho Monkey||379,000||141,550||37%||1|
Daily Active User stats as of 6/15 from developeranalytics.com; * denotes the “fans” number is from the existing Fan Page instead of the Application Page
Larger Developers Experiment with Biggest Titles
Of those playing with this communication platform, they are typically exploring what is working for their top games and doing minimal work with the smaller titles.
Zynga, for example, was one of the early adopters of Fan Pages back in April and has, for the most part, kept all communication there (they aggressively promoted the Mafia Wars Fan Page to get over 2.2 million fans, but also have 415,000 fans on the application and need to figure out how to manage the two sites — ideally Facebook could determine a way to merge the two without losing things, but that’s bound to be a bit messy).
Compared to the other games, Texas Hold’em Poker and Mafia Wars have been the most prolific in their use of the Wall to get into the Facebook homepage stream. The majority of content for Zynga sites has been focused on contests, such as the possibility for Texas Hold’em players to win a seat in the World Series of Poker, and new features. Mafia Wars spent the last month giving users an inside look at the developer team, enlisting beta users for their new Mafia Wars: Cuba expansion, and then providing tips and tricks around the new expansion. Beyond the two largest titles though, only Vampire Wars appears to have an official Fan page and Zynga has not made use of the Application pages as of yet.
Playfish has only begun to start using the application pages to promote their games, having not created Fan Pages in the past to support their titles (an unofficial Pet Society fan page has just under 800,000 fans). To date, the content has comments have been sparse, focused on new features (Pet Society’s new garden, Restaurant City’s new rating feature), sales on the premium package (Word Challenge and Geo Challenge) and a reminder that the monthly high-scores have been reset. Pet Society, the top Payfish title, just launched its first contest this week using the application wall to post it. Pet Society has a pretty frequently updated blog highlighting new items made available and it would be a surprise if they didn’t start replicating some of the content on their application page.
Again, I would assume that a lot of the lagging around these promotional opportunities is simply a matter of bandwidth, with the larger developers focusing on the top games and the smaller developers just not having the time to dig in yet. But it may prove that retaining users by integrating pertinent content into their fan’s stream may be an easier way to extend revenues than gambling on a completely new title.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at how users are responding to posts, an example of the typical timeline for user responses and some ideas about developing a content strategy for games that might work in the Facebook homepage stream.