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Are Facebook apps a must-have feature for brands?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Has your company created a Facebook app as part of its Facebook strategy? The results:

  • No: 61.54%
  • Yes: 22.22%
  • My company isn’t on Facebook: 16.24%

Facebook applications can be such a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a useful application, such as one that allows for social commerce, gaming or some other specialized function, can be a great way to increase your fans’ ties to your Facebook presence while simultaneously granting you access to valuable data. For some brands, an app is practically essential to a healthy Facebook presence.

But we all know that most of the time, Facebook apps are nothing like that. They are usually a way for brands to gain access to user data in exchange for content that should just be posted to the brand’s page for all to see. Think about the Facebook apps of certain news organizations that ask for access to your data in exchange for letting you read a story one of your friends has shared. I don’t know about you, but I always just type the headline into Google and find the article that way. I’m not granting a brand that kind of access just for a link.

In this light, I think most SmartBrief on Social Media readers have the right idea. If you can build an app that takes your brand to the next level — and I’m sure the 22% of our fans who said “Yes” are doing just that — then go forth and prosper. But if you can’t do that, you’re better off saying no to apps, rather than going to the trouble of creating something that will only serve to alienate fans who know a cheap cash-out when they see one. Apps can be powerful tools, but they must be equally powerful for both the brand and its fans if they’re going to find a wide user base.