There was so much put out at Google I/O that it will likely take a while to discuss all my notes on it.
On the Google gadget front I learned an interesting thing (and also got a sweet Google code tshirt) at the visualization desk….
There is a Google visualization gadget directory. Neato.
Also there has been extensive additions to their documentation, so if when this feature came out it looked too confusing, you may want to revisit it.
My favorite session was probably…
Best Practices for Spreading Apps
This session was impressive for it’s very real approach to the problems of spreading your App or gadget in a responsible way. The session speakers were very well versed in the details, and did a great jobs highlighting the practical reasons for acting responsibly (and with the user in mind) while designing your apps.
As a quick note, at Google I/O, MySpace put out a firm commitment to only listing apps that are useful, that do not rely on viral or spammy techniques for their spread. As most Facebook app developers know, Facebook has taken very strong steps against such techniques as well.
The session began with an overview of methods in which apps spread…
Forced Invite – Viral (where you have to invite friends prior to using the app) This method is being disallowed in virtually all platforms
Create incentives Invite – Viral (where you get points or incentives for inviting other to use app) This method would include the vampires and zomb type.
Install after using -Organic (user can interact with app without installing, and make their own choice to install)
One to One-
Word of Mouth (people hear good things about your app, and decide to try it) Invite with meaning (a meaningful invite in the sense that the reason someone is inviting their friend to use the app is because they actually enjoy it)
Activity Streams (news feeds, messages, etc.)
Directory listing (someone finds your app in the directly and decides to check it out)
After discussing these different methods, they quoted the very smart Andrew Chen…
“If you behave like a disease, people will develop an immune system”
Vivian Li then spoke on the subject of…
Organic (rather than viral) app growth.
Briefly, here are the five steps she reccomended for organic app spread and growth.
One: Don’t Make users decide first
By this she means not to force invite, and to allow the user options to interact with your app without having to install it or invite your friends. It is pretty frustrating when you have to install an app just to see a message your friend sent you, which has led to “App fatigue”
Two: Engage users within social content
Example of this would include offering trading, competition, or comparision in a real social context. For example cosider using things like “your friend Sarah like this movie clip, do you?” By using a real decision that someones friend has made to help spread your app, you are using actual social data that is relevant to the user. She also mention user generated content (UGC) in this step, USG is something I want to gomore into later in more detail, but basically one of the very real benefits to search marketers of apps are their ability to have users create both content and links. I will put more out on this later.
Three: Include more “Usage Groups”
Usage groups? A quick explanation of this is that it can be said that there are two “loops” to getting more users…
The Invite loop – Viral
The Usage loop – Organic
Viral is becoming a bad word in the gadget industry, not because of high and mighty thinking but because of user complaints. A social platform must satisfy it’s users and there is a general trand to end viral methods of spread. (forced invites, forced interaction, forced anything)
Useful applications are typically created with the goal of organic growth (usefulness to users) in mind, rather than the main goal of an app being it’s spread.
Four: Use updates and notifications wisely
Vivian highlighted the importance of using social data within your updates to it’s fullest potential. The more relevant and and useful info you include in your updates and notifications the better off your app will be, and the more satisfied your users will become. An example would be to include a message a friend gave a user in the update instead of requiring a user to go to the app to read it.
Five: Respect the users privacy
This is a simple one. A clear and concise explanation of what info is being used and how, goes a long way. Use any user info wisely, with their interests in mind.
Next there was some look at code and the ways a Open Social app uses to spread…
1 – Passive – Activity Streams (updates, notification)
2 – More Direct – User Messaging
2 – Direct App Sharing – requestShareApp()
Okay, that’s it for this session and part two of Google I/O coverage.