Building a Facebook App – week 1

Building a Facebook App – week 1

With the newest release of the Facebook C# SDK I decided to revisit the Social Books idea I have been working on with a friend. Previously we had build the web app outside of Facebook – you could sign in with your Facebook credentials through Facebook Connect and we’d then grab the pages and items you liked in Facebook and try to make you some book recommendations.

I decided to try and build a much more simple version of the application that would allow you to post to your Facebook wall what current book you were reading, and also ask your friends for new book recommendations. I also wanted to build this as a Facebook Canvas Application rather than a standalone web site in the hope that more people would trust it and authenticate and allow their Facebook details to be passed in.

The Facebook C# SDK is a real joy to work with. It’s got some good sample applications and code snippets up on the site. With the existing code we already had using the Amazon web service to retrieve books I was able to put together something in 2 days and launch it.

You can try the application out here:
Social Books Facebook App

The hope is the app will be quite viral. By posting a short message to user’s Facebook wall when they select the book they are reading I hope their friends will be interested to click on the link and then sign up and post the book they currently have open.


I’ve been running some adverts on Facebook to try and attract some initial users. I was hoping the viral effect of people posting the books they were reading on their walls would mean that one advert enticed member would lead to 3 or 4 eventually coming over. Last week I spent £33.91 on Facebook ads which got 46 clicks.

Overall stats.

Here are the stats for Social Books from week 1.

Users : 59
Books Added : 50

This is pretty good for a first week, although I had hoped the viral aspect of posting messages to your Facebook wall would have meant a larger number. It’s a good start though and something to work on and try to increase as we move into week 2.
I need to build in some better tracking of users so we can tell where new registrations are coming from – adverts, wall postings, friend invites etc…

Unfortunately the process in Facebook for submitting your App to the App Directory is broken! Hopefully they’ll get this fixed soon as I’ve read getting your site submitted can lead to an influx of new users (at least for a short while)

Week 2 Plans

This week I plan one new development feature, and a different attempt on marketing.
The new feature will allow you to add books to your ‘Shelf’ that you’ve previously read. Upon doing this you’ll get the choice as to whether you want to post the book to your Facebook wall. If you are going through and adding 50 books in one go that you’ve read over the past 2 years you might not want to let your friends know about every one of them.

I’ve switched off the Facebook ads and will now try a little bit of Twitter marketing. Also on Thursday I’m planning to send out an email newsletter to all the registered users to try and keep return usage of the site up and let everybody know about the new features for them to try.

If you’ve any ideas on how to do extra marketing around Facebook Apps please leave them in the comments!

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