The recent initial public offering of Facebook – despite its controversies – should have everyone convinced that social media is powerful. The IPO was the third largest in United States history, valued at $104 billion.
Some estimates put the number of Facebook users at 800 million. The US accounts for about 20% of that total; however, Latin America is close, with 145 million users or 18% of Facebook users. Latin America’s influence on Facebook has helped make Spanish the second most popular language on the networking site. To get noticed in the Latin American market, you need to engage with users of social media. Social applications act to connect users inside and outside of a social media network. Let’s take a look at what I call the three levels of social apps.
Application Within the Application
The first is an application within the social network application (sometimes called social plug-ins). These are usually simple applications that go viral as people use and recommend them. They are ideal for anyone who wants to rapidly build a large base of fans or users.
From a business perspective, you could create an application that provides incentives for “liking” your company profile on Facebook by releasing content (a PDF file or a video) that your target market perceives as valuable. That type of application is simple to create, yet effective at growing your online network.
The second kind of application is any type of web application that allows users to connect via a social network (like Facebook or LinkedIn). These apps are often consumer-oriented applications that run on the web but also allow you to share information with your social network through status updates. It is a very popular type of application with hobby-oriented sites, like bird watching sites or cooking sites. Connecting via social media is key for these applications, because according to a report issued by ShareThis, sharing generates more than half of all Internet traffic, and 38% of all sharing happens through Facebook.
The third type of application employs more sophisticated functionality and enables a deeper analysis of your user base. Web applications that make use of GEOTag location-based technology, such as EveryTrail.com, fall under this category. This sophisticated application allows users to use an iPhone or GPS tracking device, capture and GEOTag photos that are taken along the way and import that information to the website, where it will also be shared with the social network. Sophisticated applications are not just pushing information out; they’re capturing information about the network and providing value to the user.
The demographics show that social media is becoming hard wired into Latin American culture. Reaching that market through business applications and sophisticated web applications requires a skilled programming team. It might be possible to accomplish your goals with a few freelancers, but for the sake of time and money, I would recommend outsourcing to a skilled social application development team instead.
Steve Mezak is founder and CEO of Accelerance, Inc., which helps customers engage the right nearshore or offshore software development team to create high-quality software. Read more about social and Facebook app development on the Accelerance blog.