Notes from FacebookCamp Toronto 2, Part 1

FacebookCamp Toronto logo

Last night was the second FacebookCamp Toronto, and I took notes. Here’s the first part, with more to follow later today…

Introductory Presentation

The introductory presentation was made by the FacebookCamp Toronto organizers: Roy Pereira, Colin Smillie and Andrew Cherwenka.

They thanks the event sponsors:

  • Facebook
  • Segal
  • Refresh Partners
  • Trapeze
  • MaRS

Some updates on things that have happened since the last FacebookCamp Toronto:

  • There are now more than 43 million active users
  • fbFund has been established:
    • $10M in capital (may grow over time)
    • Accepting applications for grants from US$25K – US$250K
  • FBML 1.1 and FB JavaScript have been released

Here’s what the Facebook application scene looks like right now:

  • About 5,500 approved applications:
    • 84 of these apps account for 90% of the usage
    • At this point, “It’s anyone’s game”
  • The primary measure of an application is no longer installs, but now daily active users
  • Having good functionality is now up there with being first (e.g. Consider the number of “wishlist”-type apps — there are about 18)
  • 9 of the top 20 apps come from from the same development shop

They showed a chart of the top 30 Facebook cities (in terms of membership), 9 of which are Canadian. The top five Facebook cities are:

  1. London, UK
  2. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. New York, New York, USA
  5. Chicago, Illinois, USA

In August 2007, Canada beat the UK for monthly visits to Facebook.

There are a number of upcoming FacebookCamps:

  • Vancouver: October 23rd
  • Montreal: November 7
  • Toronto: Early December 2007

There are also plans for a Toronto “FacebookWeekend”, a full-weekend developer workshop — perhaps in early December 2007.

Facebook Application Best Practices (Ami Vora, Facebook)

Who am I?

  • The lead of Platform Product Marketing for Facebook
  • Her job: make sure the developers out there are successful and that the developer community is healthy and growing

Facebook, as a whole, is…

  • A tech company intent on building a social utility
  • 45 million active users (that’s up from 34 million, which was the figure at the last FacebookCamp Toronto)
  • 250,000 new users sign on every day, which means there’s a 3% week-on-week growth

Who are the new users?

  • They’re typically age 25 and older
  • Everywhere outside the U.S. — that is, in places where Facebook didn’t get its start in universities — there’s even distribution of ages for Facebook users


  • U.S.: 18 million users
  • Canada: 6 million (“That one in every 5 Canadians!”)
  • U.K. 5 million
  • 60 billion pages served a month
  • More than 50% of our users visit at least once daily

The Social Graph

  • What makes people come back to the site?
  • For them, it’s all about the social graph: the network of connections in the real world through which people communicate and share info
  • In Facebook, they’re trying to create an accurate online analog of people’s real-world social graphs
  • Value of the social graph to photos:
    • Facebook’s “Photos” app is relatively simple compared to other photo-sharing sites — you can only upload and share
    • In spite of its lack of features, it still has more activity than other photo sites
    • Why? Facebook’s social graph
    • There’s a social context attached to the photos — you can tag the photo, specifying with who’s in it, and the tagged people are told that they’ve been tagged
    • Photos become social content
    • Photos are shared with exactly the people who are interested in them
  • Value of the social graph to events
    • Facebook’s “Events” app is relatively simple compared to other event-announcing sites
    • Once again, in spite of a lack of features, they see more event traffic than competitors (for example, they get 3 times eVite’s pageviews)

The Facebook platform provides 3 things:

  1. Mass distribution
  2. Deep integration
  3. New opportunities
  • They’ve tried to open every integration point available to their own developers to all outside developers
  • When developing a Facebook app, think about the value you’re adding to the user experience

Best practices for Facebook features:

  • Mini-Feed:
    • Good for “temporal information”
    • Used by people looking for the latest info about me
    • If your app posts items to the Mini-feed, include a friend of the user’s where possible (e.g. “Pete Forde tagged Joey in 2 photos.”)
  • Profile Box:
    • Not really for content
    • It’s a representation of the user
  • Canvas Page:
    • Use for heavy information
    • Use it for interaction to build connections
  • News Feed:
    • Shows connections
    • Great driver for future engagement — shows a preview of what you’ll see if you dive in

Opportunities — Building a business online, you’re concerned with

  • Growth
    • Access to millions of potential users
    • Viral distribution through the social graph
  • Engagement
    • 50% daily return rate
    • Social context provides opportunity for engaging content
  • Monetization
    • Freedom
    • Several monetization paths:
      • Relationship with an ad network
      • Partnership with a brand advertiser
      • Cross-promotion
      • Institutional investment
      • fbFund


  • Meant to lower the barrier to entry
  • Small no-equity grants
  • Not Facebook’s money, but the money of early funders of Facebook
  • Right of first refusal to fbFund companies


  • Provide engaging content / focus on the social
  • Provide relevant info
  • Showcase interactions between users (“Everyone loves a little voyeurism”)
  • Focus on usability
  • Keep providing your users with fresh content
  • One good idea for fresh content: turn-based games
  • Use the integration points into Facebook well
  • Iterate often
  • Think about intelligent promotion
  • Incorporate privacy:
    • Think of privacy as an asset, not as something that weighs you down
    • Users are more willing to interact if they feel their privacy is being protected/respected

Platform growth

  • 4000+ applications
  • 100 new applications added per day
  • 80,000 developer keys
  • 80% of users have added at least one application (which means that users think of apps as a key part of their Facebook experience)

This is just the beginning!

  • “We’re only 4 months in, and we have a long way to go.”
  • We’ve all got the same users — we’re all trying to build the same user experience — our success is contingent upon each other.

The Q&A Session

Ami, on the relationships represented in Facebook: “‘We hooked up’ is not the best relationship descriptor.”

On limiting the clutter presented by all the apps:

  • A hard problem — considered it when they first decided to open Facebook to third-party apps
  • Try to keep the profile clean
  • You have free rein on the Canvas page
  • Note that if you collapse an app on your own profile, it’s collapsed on all the other profiles you see

Q: Any other incentives other than fbFund?

  • The goal is really to create an open market where incentives come to exist
  • Don’t really want to be in the incentive business themselves

Cross-posted to the Tucows Developer Blog

8 replies on “Notes from FacebookCamp Toronto 2, Part 1”

[…] Welcome to digitalmediaTORONTO. Thanks for visiting! Don’t miss any of our articles, go ahead, subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!On Tuesday night FacebookCamp 2 was held at the MaRS Centrer on College Street. Yet again I had a family emergency that prevented my attending, so I had to scour the blogosphere to find a half decent report.  Joey deVilla (aka “Accordion Guy”) posted his notes from the sessions–Global Nerdy »Notes from FacebookCamp Toronto 2, Part 1. […]

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