Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK) offers a package of eight tools that can enhance your app’s functionality, share in-app content with friends, promote your app and drive installs, and even monetize your app with Facebook ads.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly mysterious term “SDK.” In short, Facebook’s SDK is a set of powerful tools developed by Facebook’s engineers that you can implement in your own app. Integrating parts of the Facebook SDK in your app is convenient for your users (think Facebook login). It’s also a brilliant way to promote your app, get people talking about your app, and even to link to your app directly from Facebook.
Here are the eight tools offered by Facebook SDK for both iOS and Android:
- Login (log in to your app using Facebook credentials)
- Share (like content and share content on Facebook)
- Graph API (query Facebook data, post stories, etc.)
- App Links (link directly to your app from Facebook posts)
- App Invites (send messages to friends inviting them to use your app)
- App Events (analyze how people use your app)
- Ads (app install ads and app engagement ads shown in Facebook feeds)
- Audience Network (monetize your app with Facebook ads)
Let’s take a look at six ways that you can market and promote your app even better with the help of these Facebook SDK tools.
1. Facebook Login Adds Trust and Simplicity
Nowadays, Facebook Login is practically a must-have feature for an app. Facebook Login adds an extra level of trust and simplicity to your app. Trust, because a user’s login credentials are secured with Facebook, and because Facebook is such a well-known company. It also offers simplicity by avoiding the need for yet another username and password. With a proliferation of apps and services, login credentials are increasingly difficult to keep track of; but nearly everyone who’s a serious mobile app user already has Facebook installed and logged in on their phone!
[Facebook login. Image credit: Appcoda]
Integrating Facebook Login also gives your app access to the following user data when someone registers with your app (this particular set of data is known as a “public profile”):
- name (first and last) and a unique user id number
- cover image
- Facebook page link
- age range (not date of birth or exact age)
- friends list
- whether profile is verified or not (boolean)
Other types of data not mentioned above require additional permissions to access.
This user data is a valuable asset for your company and your app. You can use this information to customize the look of your app – for example, by adding a user’s profile picture next to their name in your app – or to suggest a list of other Facebook friends who are already using your app.
2. Sharing Promotes Community
In-app sharing can give your app exposure and promote a sense of community among users. If someone shares that they’ve just booked a vacation through your travel app, then friends will likely comment on that post, and will probably be much more likely to check out that same app next time they’re booking a holiday. Facebook’s SDK enables sharing through both Like and Share buttons – but these can be implemented independently; they do not have to come as a set.
With Sharing, users can post content from your app to their own Timeline or to a friend’s Timeline. Users can share:
- images or photos (up to 12 Mb)
- video (up to 12 Mb)
And the great news with the Sharing functionality is that you can implement this component of the Facebook SDK even without implementing Facebook Login. That’s right – you can select these tools a-la-carte!
You can even share short “stories” directly from your app. For example, you can let Bill share the story “Bill is drinking coffee with Becky,” and tag Becky in the post. This is accomplished with Facebook’s Open Graph Stories. These stories are completely customizable, so whether your app offers lawn mowing services or photo retouching, you can write fitting stories that your users will want to share.
Keep in mind that shared content can direct people to a specific destination within your app. For example, with a concert app a link could direct users straight to a screen with information about a particular show. It’s up to you to determine where content shared from within your app directs to when clicked from the Facebook News Feed.
[Sharing to Facebook Messenger. Image credit: Hacker News]
3. App Invites... Because It’s Boring to Use Apps Alone!
There’s no better form of app promotion than word of mouth. If you’re developing a messenger app, for example, you can be certain that people will start using your app in groups... after all, they need someone to message through the network! Nearly every app is more fun to use when you’re doing so within a community.
Facebook offers your precisely the link you need to let users share your app with their friends. When a user taps the Invite button they get to browse their friends list and easily invite friends to use the app. They can even attach a personal message to the invitation, complete with an image. Invites show up on friends’ phones as push notifications.
App Invites are dead simple, but they’re a powerful marketing tool that you shouldn’t ignore. What better way to get free endorsements for your app?!
4. App Events Let You Know Your Target Audience
In March 2015 at the F8 annual Developer Conference, Facebook unveiled their challenge to Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and Flurry. Analytics for Apps offers data about your users and how they engage with your app.
Analytics for Apps is composed of several tools. The first is called Segments. Segments, as the name suggests, lets you break down users into groups based on various criteria – for example, gender, device (iOS or Android), or age range. You can then see metrics for these specific groups of users, and compare their use of your app to the rest of your app’s user base.
Knowing who your target audience is means a better use of your advertising and development dollars. You can invest money in advertising to particular sets of users, or tailor your app design towards a certain mobile device category or even a particular phone or tablet model.
Another analytical tool provided by Facebook’s Analytics for Apps is called a Funnel. A Funnel shows you the “route” that a user takes through your app. This route is traced by lining the virtual paths of your app with App Event features. By retracing the App Events that a user triggers, you can see how they’ve navigated through the app. This is an invaluable tool for determining problematic points at which your app loses a user’s attention or is confusing to navigate.
Cohorts is the final tool offered by Analytics. It shows you which groups of people took a certain set of actions (for example, groups who made in-app purchases or who used the app daily) within a given period of time. Cohorts is great for understanding how people respond to changes you make in your app or for understanding whether the behavior of new users (who have only used the latest version of your app) is different from other groups of users who have seen previous versions.
Though Analytics for Apps does not require Facebook Login, if your app does implement the Facebook login feature then you will be able to view some additional metrics related to logins.
[App analytics. Image credit: Developmentnow]
5. App Ads Drive Installs and Engagement From Facebook
App Ads promote your mobile app in the Facebook News Feed. The key with App Ads is that they’re more than just generic “advertisements.” App Ads show up in the News Feed as a “Suggested App,” and let Facebook users Like, Comment, Share, and - most importantly – Install your app or engage with it if they already have it installed.
Tapping on “Install” will redirect users to your app’s page on the Google Play Store or the App Store. Or, assuming a user has already installed your app, you can send them straight to a screen within your app. For example, you could send them directly to the page of your in-app store that highlights Easter theme specials. This is called deep linking. Deep linking reduces the steps required for a user to get to the screen they’re looking for, and to find the information they need. Instead of having a link that merely launches your app, you can launch your app and send users directly to the page they’re expecting – for the advertised hotel room, in-app purchase, or music album that you have showcased in your App Ad.
When advertising with App Ads you can pay per impression (per set of X number of users who are shown the ad), or per click (each time a user actually taps on the link to your app). You can also decide if you want to pay a fixed amount per day of advertising or if you want to set a total budget for the lifetime of the ad campaign. Generally, the minimum amount you can spend per day on App Ads is $1 to $5. (You can find more information about Facebook ad pricing here.) Also, remember that all ads you create with Facebook tools must be approved by Facebook (generally within 3 working days).
6. Audience Network Lets You Monetize With Facebook
Audience Network is Facebook’s very own ad network, and their attempt to take personal and relevant ads right into your app. As an app owner, you can profit from Audience Network by showing in-app ads powered by Facebook’s SDK. These ads come in three forms: banner, interstitial, and native. In other words, these can be – but are not only – shown as banner ads at the bottom of your app.
You can also consider advertising your own app on Audience Network, showing off your new product in in-app ads within other apps.
Further Considerations: Changes and Ongoing Support of Facebook SDK
Facebook SDK is known for regular updates that include changes. Thankfully, however, they are also known for warning developers in advance when a new version is coming out. (This is important in case features change!)
Every version of the Facebook SDK is supported for at least two years after release, giving you a solid amount of time to introduce necessary updates to your app. That said, it’s important for both app developers and companies to keep abreast of updates to the SDK, especially since most are in response to privacy or security issues that could result in your app not functioning properly. We specifically mention privacy and security issues so that you can learn from our experience because this did affect one of our apps here at Yalantis!
Based on our experience, we advise you to make sure that your app’s business model does not entirely rely on the availability of certain data from Facebook. After all, it’s best if you are in control of the most critical data your app relies on. Plus you never know what changes a new Facebook SDK update will bring.
All things considered, though, the many promotional and marketing advantages of Facebook SDK outweigh concerns about uncontrollable changes. Facebook SDK is secure, and provides a wide range of tools for boosting your app’s functionality and promoting and marketing your app. The cherry on top is that it can also save your developers a lot of time, meaning cost savings for you!
There are many ways that the Facebook SDK toolkit can help promote your app, drive engagement, know your target audience, and even monetize your app. There’s so much business potential! Leave the technicalities of Facebook SDK to our talented developers here at Yalantis. Get in touch with our team if you have any questions about how Facebook SDK can enhance your next app!