As expected, the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday is causing a sharp increase in activity for holiday-related Facebook applications. Most of these apps are gifting applications, which allow you to send holiday-related virtual items to Facebook friends. From Lucky Charms to Gaelic Wishes (see apps here and here), most of these attention-grabbing applications have one thing in common–they’re made by Facebook members using the Gift Creator application.
So why is it the Gift Creator applications are becoming to dominate the leaderboards, from fastest growing apps to spikes seen during various holiday seasons? They’ve become quite viral on Facebook, as the applications have a tendency to encourage activity through enticing features that can be unlocked and subsequently given out to friends as specialty items.
As the encouraged activity used to be the inviting other friends to join the application, millions of invites are in fact sent out via these gift apps on a regular basis. It can get quite spammy, especially when you consider the fact that several of these top apps are being powered by the same developer, lending themselves to a rather uniform look.
Facebook has tried to minimize the amount of spam that can be delivered through a given application on its platform, especially those that incur traffic through direct invites. Some apps have managed to get around certain Facebook-enforced restrictions. Even Gift Creator has modified its activity incentives based on changing Facebook regulations. Unlocked gifts can only be accessed when friends accept a sent gift, which requires a higher level of engagement than merely sending out invites.
So is this higher level of engagement good for users and application developers in the end? The Gift Creator apps are still witnessing large spikes in activity during each holiday, so perhaps there’s something here that can be taken into consideration for future developers or even Facebook.
As Facebook itself has dabbled in virtual goods for various holidays, ensuring a high level of user engagement is quite necessary if Facebook is looking to partner with brands and earn revenue through holiday-related applications. One powerful factor for Gift Creator apps is the fact that they’re created by and spread through Facebook users themselves, which is engaging on multiple levels and can actually encourage a good amount of return activity, even when the holidays are over.