So, the Facebook API changes enacted a few days back further kill app virality by making wall posts only visible to users who already have the app installed. This is pretty much the last nail in the coffin for free user acquisition.
Why would Facebook do this? The current mantra is that Facebook is reducing app spam and making Facebook more usable and, uh, “meaningful” for you and your friends. And yeah, I guess that’s true. Newsfeed spam was OUT OF CONTROL last year.
But–that was last year. Since the last major TOS change, I haven’t seen too many news posts about my friends clobbering defenseless animals to death in Frontierville. But that could just be because my friends stopped playing Facebook games. After all, MAU numbers have plunged on most titles.
But here’s my conspiracy theory.
Zynga is making boatloads of money because they directly monetize Facebook users. It took Facebook WAY too long to wise up, but they now have created Facebook Credits to skim off of all the app monetization. This is smart.
They also killed most viral channels, forcing VC backed mega giant developers to blow millions of dollars per month on Facebook ads to acquire users. Smart, but killed the garage developer.
Wall posts were the last free way to acquire users. But why should there be any free way to acquire users? Especially if Facebook needs to show profit for a possible IPO?
I think that in the near future, Facebook will re-enable wall posts from apps to users that don’t have them installed. Except Facebook are going to charge per click, or per app install for these wall posts.
This will still cut out severe spam, because no spammer is going to want to pay for clicks. But it will also be essentially the same thing as a Cost-Per-Install promotion. Some Facebook developers are allegedly paying up to $3 or more to acquire a user. Facebook controls one of the most important channels for user acquisition and it’s time to pay up.
But it’s just a theory…