Five tips for making a popular Facebook app

The rush is on to make killer applications -- but is there more hype than money in the endeavor?

4. Leverage your site

Design an application that extends the functionality of your own Web site, thus, helping to promote your site. This is what Flixster did with its Movies application.

Another example: The Facebook game HoboWars is a "lite" version of the original Web-based game. Initially, the Facebook version was created in response to players wanting to show their player statistics on their Facebook profiles. Andrew Hogan, the game's creator, decided to take things a step further and made a self-standing HoboWars game that runs on Facebook. Though he has not been actively promoting the original Web site version of HoboWars, the Facebook version of the game managed to attract an additional 9,000 users to the HoboWars site.

5. Prepare to scale

If your application grows in popularity and use, be ready to invest in more hardware or more server bandwidth, warn experienced Facebook application developers. What little money Hogan has managed to earn from his HoboWars application has gone back into buying new servers to handle the increasing load of users playing the game. He released his Facebook application on September 10. Within two weeks, HoboWars hit 70,000 users a day. "That's when there were problems," Hogan says.

Commagere knows first-hand how having a popular application can bring about hardware issues. His trio of monster-themed games -- Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves (all require Facebook registration to view) -- have been consistently ranking high on the list of most popular Facebook applications. "If things take off, scaling can be stressful, but take solace in the fact that everyone goes through those growing pains," he says.

Howard Wen has reported on technology news -- specializing in business, development, wireless, culture, gaming and open source -- for several publications. He can be reached at

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