Renkoo and the Facebook Success Plan Problem

Sometimes you come across an article that’s just a great example for something you’ve been thinking about for awhile. Over on Inside Facebook there’s a great post about how Renkoo’s Boozemail application has become really popular. Given that the application is driving a lot of traffic over to Renkoo, they’re faced with the question of what to do with all of this newfound traffic.

My first reaction to reading this post was “well, what was your success plan?” – what were you planning to do if this thing really took off and why did you do it in the first place? It’s kind of hard to deal with success (and I think traffic is a good proxy for success here) if you’re not clear about your objective up front. I don’t think Renkoo is alone in having created Facebook apps that are not directly tied to their core business or where there isn’t a clear way to convert the newfound traffic – they are just one of the few people who happen to have to deal with the problem head on due to their success. It seems there are 3 good reasons to build a Facebook app:
1. Become famous – You’re an independent developer and you want to put something out there that will boost your public profile. People will know you were the guy/gal who invented and built such and such app.
2. Brand awareness – The application is not directly about acquiring users for your service; the point is to expose users to your brand and hope that it drives traffic back to your core service. If your core service is good and relevant, ideally you’ll attract some people who end up converting to users.
3. User acquisition – You have some Facebook application that is designed to acquire new users. The experience on Facebook is similar to your core non-Facebook service so it’s really a way to give users a teaser/taste before they sign up for the application.

It seems to me the big unasked question is why the Boozemail crowd isn’t converting. Is it because they just don’t like Renkoo or is it something else? If you’re getting that much traffic from Boozemail and none of it is converting to your core service, maybe you should take a hard look at the core service and think if you’re in the right business – that is not a Renkoo-specific comment but just a general thing to consider. I’m not suggesting they bet the farm on the Facebook platform, but all of this non-converting traffic might just be shining a bright light on some other problems with the core business.