Want to know how the Facebook Platform is currently performing? One of the best indicators is the application distribution based on the number of daily active users (DAUs). While the historical shift of this is also important, we thought we’d take a moment to provide an approximate snapshot of the current Facebook Platform. While DAUs change from day to day, this chart should provide a greater understanding of the current distribution of applications.
It’s Good To Be On Top
The most significant statistics is that approximately 4,500 applications on the Facebook Platform currently have more than 200 DAUs. We would also argue that there are only 1,597 applications on Facebook that are generating any measurable amount of revenue, with that being the number of applications with more than 2,000 DAUs.
In our database we’ve found over 41,000 applications with between 1 and 100 DAUs, and almost a quarter of a million applications with no DAUs. While we’re sure there are plenty of applications not included in our index currently, it’s pretty clear that becoming one of the top Facebook applications is extremely challenging. To put this in perspective, let’s take a quick look at Zynga.
Facebook Platform Has A Short Tail
With over 52 million daily active users, Zynga accounts for over 28 percent of all Facebook Platform activity. The next three largest application developers, Electronic Arts (formerly Playfish), Crowdstar, and Playdom, are half the size of Zynga combined, accounting for approximately 13 percent of all Facebook Platform activity. All the applications in the 100,000 DAUs to under 1 million DAUs account for approximately 40 percent of all Platform activity.
All of these numbers, of the DAU distribution across the Facebook Platform suggests that there is no long tail. Is that surprising? Not really. In the world of search the long tail makes a lot of sense because every internet user is searching for something different. However when it comes to the Facebook Platform, most people aren’t searching for applications to interact with that fit their needs.
Don’t Build Niche Apps On Facebook
Yes, “niche” applications exist in the sense that less than a million users cannot exactly be considered a “mass audience” application, however low DAUs doesn’t not imply a niche focus. The conclusion is that if you are a developer and looking to build an application with a niche focus, you should build your application off of Facebook. While Facebook integration can boost your engagement, search traffic will be necessary to truly generate a legitimate business.
This also has significant implications for the future of the Facebook and Google relationship. For the time being, Facebook cannot pose a significant threat to Google as there are too many developers and media companies that rely on them. While the Open Graph could serve as a long-term attack against Google, in terms of discovering information, it’s simply much more difficult to find niche content on Facebook.
A Tail Exists On Facebook, Just Not On The Platform
Right now the only place where the “long tail” somewhat exists on Facebook is within the Pages product. While we won’t provide data about Facebook Pages in this article, it’s pretty clear that Facebook Pages can assist Facebook in serving as a discovery mechanism for long-tail content/information. If you are an application developer, this means targeting Facebook Page owners is probably the best opportunity if you don’t have significant resources. Otherwise, you’ll need a significant budget (a few hundred thousand dollars) or have an incredible understanding of what the masses are looking for.