Facebook app statistics


One of the things I really like about having an app on Facebook is that I can easily see how many people are using it. This may sound trivial, but for my Firefox and IE extensions, I’m stuck trying to estimate usage based on downloads. Now I’m on the main Firefox add-on site, I can get stats on downloads from there, but they’re a bit opaque:

It’s good to see I’m approaching 4000 downloads in the past few weeks, but until recently that total had stayed at 867 for a long time. And that per-week total has always shown 1. So I’m not convinced they’re very up-to-date, though I’m pretty sure they aren’t over-counting downloads, just slow in showing them.

As an aside, these stats indicate that focusing my message really paid off. PeteSearch had only around 200 downloads after several weeks, on the same site.

For my IE plugin, I have to go off my web site logs. I’ve used some of the built-in traffic-monitoring tools, but they all seem geared towards overall site statistics rather than the particular measure I want: "How many people with agents you recognize (eg not robots) downloaded this file over a particular period of time? How many since the beginning of time, and were they repeat customers (ie upgrading)?"

What I end up doing is just looking at the raw latest visitors log, and getting a qualitative impression of downloads. What I see is that Firefox users outnumber IE by at least ten to one. There are several possible explanations for this:

  • My promotion’s been a lot more effective in the Firefox market.
  • People who are early-adopters interested in something like GoogleHotKeys are also more likely to have adopted Firefox.
  • IE users don’t have much of an add-on selection, so they’re unused to installing extensions, and are probably more wary of the security risks.

Even once you know the download totals, unless you build in an unpopular phoning-home capability, it’s hard to know how many people are actually using it. I have a help link added to every Google page that users are free to click on, so that is at least an existence proof for usage; if I see it showing up, I know somebody’s gone ahead and installed it.

Facebook gives both the developer and the rest of the world a simple and up-to-date view of how many people are using an app. This should help me understand what’s working and what isn’t, and learn from my customers very quickly. It’s also a good motivating score-card!

To provide some edutainment, I’ll include the current number of Funhouse Photo users in every post, along with a short explanation of anything that’s happened to explain them. Here’s the first report:

5 users – This includes my sister! I’ve sent out links to a few people to test it, but it’s not in the directory, and I haven’t tried to promote it in any other ways yet, since there’s still some bugs to iron out.

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