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Invite targeting on Facebook gets standardized out

InsideFacebook has a great article on Facebook’s recent effort to standardize application invites:

Since the beginning of the Platform, Facebook has had to tweak the
invitation rules a few times to limit the impact spammers could have at
large. At first, Facebook had no limits on invitations – apps could
spam all your friends every day, and many apps had little behind their
full page of checkboxes with no skip button, yet were able to grow to
millions of users in a matter of a couple of weeks. After that,
Facebook limited the number of invitations a user of an application
could send to 10 per day – and later to 20 per day, though only 10 at
once.

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop developers from still using
borderline tactics. Because invitations are such a vital part of the
user application experience, Facebook ultimately decided to bring more
of the UI in house to prevent poor experiences from becoming common
amongst Facebook applications.

This standardization brings to an end one of the most interesting things I was seeing on Facebook, which was "invite targeting." That’d mean targeting invites based on attributes like:

  • Demographics
  • Other apps installed
  • Interests
  • Friend relationship strength
  • etc

If you think of every invite as an ad for the application, and you only have 10 per day to send out, you’re going to want to target the invites to the people mostly likely to click through and install it. Thus, if you’re making a movies app, you want to make sure you are sending to people who don’t already have the application, list a lot of movies in their interests, etc. Then you can start to A/B test which attributes are the most important, track stats and conversions, and other sophisticated things.

Net/net, it may actually be a good thing for Facebook to track conversions for invites, and make reward applications that are good at inviting the right people – this targeting process is likely a useful thing that enhances the experience, not detracts from it.

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