Social apps on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media have unleashed a torrent of demographic information the likes of which marketing departments have never seen before.

Launching a successful social app and successfully mining customer data isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible. Given the rapid emergence of both apps and social media, it’s a subject that affiliate partners should at least be considering. Here’s the basics of social apps for anyone who thinking about adding them to their long-term marketing strategy.

What Are Social Apps?

Social applications are small, third party programs designed to work in conjunction with social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These apps typically harvest user information like location, occupation and social contacts to both enhance user experience and interactivity; and provide valuable demographic data to app makers.

Popular social games from Zygna like Farmville and Texas Hold ‘Em that allow for plenty of interaction are the best known social apps, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Some apps like We’re Related help narrow down social networks while others like Caesars Casino are marketing ploys from major corporations.

What all social apps have in common is that they require users to share, at least some of, their personal information with the app maker.

Privacy Issues

Because users are giving up personal data to app makers, anyone developing a social app should also be developing a privacy policy, too. In a recent article on SiliconAngle.com, app developer Stuart Conway shared some tips for keeping this issue in check.

Above all, Conway advises other developers to be up front about the data they’re collecting and how it’s going to be used. Social network users know that free apps aren’t really free, but they don’t like being lied to.

He also suggests an only-take-what-you-need approach to date collection. Taking too much information not only shreds your credibility, it can seriously slow down your apps.

Looking for social app ideas? Check out The Top Gambling Apps on Facebook.

Developing Your Own Apps

The technical side of app development isn’t actually the toughest part. If you’re not a developer, you’ll want to farm that off to a freelancer on ODesk or eLance is pretty straightforward.

Finding a niche that hasn’t already been completely exploited is going to be a lot tougher. For example, there are already dozens a casino slots apps (we stopped counting at 75), so originality is crucial.

In a recent column in the Globe and Mail titled, How to Stand Out in Developing Social Media Apps, entrepreneur Brian Gordon suggests that app developers need to really push the envelope to get noticed:

If you want your app to stand out and not face hundreds of me-too competitors, you’ll need something proprietary in your processing; something more than just rearranging free data.

Finally

A well thought out social app strategy can be a pretty sweet demographic info bonanza for affiliate partners. Just remember to provide value, originality, and take it easy on the personal stuff.

Are you considering adding adding social apps to your long term marketing plans? Share your thoughts with us on our SEO Forum.


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