Facebook retooled its site today to show how many people are actively using their profile widgets every day. The results may not surprise Facebook users but should give pause to anyone thinking of investing money in Facebook apps: Once installed, most widgets are ignored.
Slide’s “Top Friends” boasts the most active users: 2.7 million people, or 20% of its user base, use it every day. The app with the highest engagement percentage: “WarBook,” a medieval fantasy game, is played by 18,000 people a day, or 42% of its install base. The “iLike” app, oft-cited as a Facebook success story, may be less popular than we thought: 646,000 people, or 9% of its install base, use it daily. “Where I’ve Been,” the travel application falsely rumoured to have been purchased by TripAdvisor for $3 million, has 164,444 daily active users, or 6% of its install base. (That’s worse engagement than TripAdvisor’s own “Cities I’ve Visited” app, with 8% daily usage.)
To be sure, this metric doesn’t apply to every application. Apps like “LOLcats” exist purely for decoration; who cares if anyone clicks on it? And it’s not clear exactly whose activity the stats measure — the profile owner’s or everyone’s, including their friends’? This makes a big difference for apps that a person might set up once for their friends to play with frequently. We’re also not sold on daily activity being the best way to measure an app’s success — weekly or monthly activity might be a better metric. But for people hoping to make a business out of Facebook apps, these stats are less than stellar.