Social networking web sites such as Facebook aren’t always about wasting your time. There’s a lot you can do with it. There are apps from games to professional utilities – all at one place…
A significant shift has occurred in social networking trends among the Indian youth over the last one year: almost everybody who ever had an Orkut account now has one on Facebook – and few have even opted out of Orkut altogether. Over the last four months, the number of active users of Facebook has more than doubled and July 2009 saw more than 3.2 million Indian users. Comscore, the internet marketing and research company, says 68.2 per cent of the time spent by Indians on social networking, was spent on Orkut. But just ask your friends and family about which hangout they prefer while on the net and you’ll probably find the Comscore results surprising. Let’s face it: for a growing number of Indians, Facebook is the new Orkut.
One reason for Facebook’s growing popularity is its aggressive marketing strategy. Facebook has ensured it stays visible in the media through tie-ups with various major companies such as Aircel for mobile internet services, Vodafone (and their ZooZoos) for free access to Facebook – with all its pokes, updates and egg sending – on your cell phone, and Viacom’s MTV (India) for ‘Celebrity Connect’ – finding out which celebs you resemble. Its failed attempt to buy Twitter, and the recent acquisition of FriendFeed – has also helped to keep it in the public eye.
The other reason is that it’s packed with dozens of unique features, an immensely interactive, instantly gratifying and deeply interesting range of applications (or ‘apps’), and surprising tweaks that let you have fun while being in constant touch with your friends and family. Let’s take a peek at a few of the things that you could do on (and with) Facebook to bring the ‘social’ back into your network and to make it more exciting, entertaining and cool.
Log in to Facebook.com and take a good look at the bottom left corner of the screen. You can’t miss that little button on the toolbar, which says f applications. On the f applications toolbar, click on the link that says ‘Browse More Applications’. This will open up a Pandora’s box of applications for you to choose from.
We’ll start this quick tour of applications with a look at three of the most happening games on the Facebook site, in order of popularity.
While about 62 per cent of the Indian population is actually employed in the agricultural sector, all of a sudden, the population of virtual farmers has boomed, thanks to FarmVille. This online game in which anyone can set up and cultivate his/ her own virtual farm has nearly 35 million users and is definitely the most popular game on Facebook. Developed by Zynga, San Francisco, it allows you to become an online farmer – plant, grow, harvest and sell crops, buy or breed livestock – to earn ‘coin income’. Each crop requires a few hours to grow (Tomatoes need eight hours, Raspberries need two, sunflowers need 23 and so on) and each give you an XP (short for experience).
The more crops and trees you plant, the more experience you earn. Farmers can invite other Facebook friends to become neighbours and send special gifts according to the level. Access to which crops you can grow depends on the number of points you’ve got – and therefore, which level you’ve reached in the game – pineapple seeds, for example, are only available to you once you reach level 15 (Professor of Agriculture) having gathered 4,500 points
This is a multiplayer browser game that’s on MySpace and Tagged as well but has an incredible 23,367,984 monthly active users (and growing) on Facebook alone. This is another hit game by Zynga, but unlike the slow, domestic space of FarmVille, it encourages you to loot, rob, kill and create an Al Capone like empire. Set in New York City, Little Italy or Cub, players must choose a character, do jobs to earn cash, build a gang by recruiting members and fight other mafia conglomerates – all with limited stamina, energy and health
As in FarmVille, you can ‘level up’ by getting more points and gaining XP by doing more jobs. As you rise up in levels, you are rewarded with access to new features, new weapons and new jobs.
More than 50 games clamour for your attention on the MindJolt Games application. Prevent balls from reaching the bottom, break up brick walls, play pool, destroy balls in combinations of three – there are innumerable options to choose from. If you get bored of getting shot up in Mafia Wars, turn to MindJolt for several hours of unlimited gaming pleasure. There are other funky hangout games like Yoville and Living Social, which let you interact with friends and contacts in entertaining ways. Don’t forget to check out Pet Society, another game application that contains plenty of games and decorations to play around with.
Here’s a list of some useful application in Facebook:
This is a social news application which allows you to discuss socially relevant issues, aimed at gaining solidarity for particular endeavours and movements. You can vote, read, submit or comment on stories right from your Facebook account. Every story you post earns 10 points, a vote gets you 5 points and sharing a story or inviting a friend gets you 25 points each. Newsfeeds are a part of this application. You can also access videos from reliable news sources here.
About 5,00,000 people have used this one. This is the most interactive application on Facebook which gives every user a chance to feel like genius. If you’ve got a great idea and you think people will like it, just transform it into an application, sit back and watch how you can change the world using Facebook.
This is a storage service from Box.net that allows you to upload and store files directly from their profile. Although it’s just 1 GB and doesn’t even compare with remote storage facilities like MSN’s Skydrive, this is useful if you want to display these files on your profile. Friends can then download these files. This is really easy to use, but these files are visible to all your Facebook friends and you may not really want everyone to see them.
Pixlr is a free, Firefox-powered online photo editor. Whether you want to upload new photos or edit older ones, Pixlr is an excellent application to help you through the process. Anyone who’s accustomed to Photoshop or Paintshop will find the interface smooth sailing. Alternatively, you could use the Pixlr Express to crop, resize and juggle photos around with ease.
With accounts on services such as Twitter, Flickr and MySpace, and more or less the same set of friends on the list – and you’re getting bugged with the repeated logins and updates. DandyID has the answer to your woes. This is an application that will sync all your accounts and display them on your Facebook profile.
Send a positive thought to each of your friends every morning using the Positive Thoughts application and make their day. While not all of them are in English, they’re all deep, philosophical, bright and cheery. Try it out and get cheered up yourself when your Facebook friends write in to thank you.
Social networking gives you access to all your contacts. Although not comprehensive, here’s a list of business applications on Facebook that can fire up your business and ensure better brand recall without the prohibitive expenses of an advertising campaign.
Facebook Fan Pages are full of potential customers who stay online for prolonged periods on the site discussing everything about their favourites. Any agency or company could cash in on this by putting their advertisements on the fan page.
Promotions for Fan Pages lets you do just that. You could use it to create and launch marketing campaigns in a few minutes using the simple, user-friendly interface of this application. These must be interactive and in the nature of lotteries, contests, coupons and discount tickets. Lately, Facebook has begun to scrutinise these – especially the promo-quizzer – and are set on shutting any agencies that appear to abuse this feature.
Tag Biz Pro Business Cards:
Use Tag Biz Pro to create a life-like business card form a whole range of features to set up a business network on Facebook. You can attach your business ‘card’ to all your Facebook messages and pick a keyword which is then displayed in a business keyword tag on your profile page. SlideShare: Now you can hook up your favourite presentation- swapping web site to Facebook in such a way that it automatically uploads to SlideShare, Facebook and LinkedIn at the same time. And it’s not just for your presentations. The site supports PPT, PPS, PPTX, ODP, PDF, DOC, DOCX, ODT, Keynote, iWork pages and even allows you to embed YouTube videos on your profile page. This could be of great help if you want to exhibit the unique selling points of your business enterprise or you want to showcase your own skills.
This application helps you to find and communicate with Facebook users based on their old job, where they had their last interview, or who they are currently working with. You can then get the inside information about these companies and make an informed opinion about a prospective employer. You can also find the right employee, find a job or advertise a vacancy in your firm.
Memorable Web Addresses:
Here’s an application that’s so useful that one wonders why no one thought of it before. It’s a free application that allows you to create a direct link to your Facebook profile page, choosing a name of your choice. So you could create a link such as www. profile.to/YourName, thus making it easier for friends or contacts to search and finds your profile with just a few clicks. Only thing is that you’ll need to hurry because this has been catching on and already has more than a million users.
This application allows companies to conduct marketing campaigns on Facebook for as less as $5 and as much as $250. It encourages users to visit your Facebook page, interact with it and then share the results with your friends, leading to even more publicity for your brand.
Anybody who’s using Facebook knows about the apps that are most entertaining like iLike and SuperPoke. We’ve listed some of the popular and some not so well-known entertaining applications that can make life with Facebook more colourful.
Music by iLike:
This one allows you to add a music tab to your profile, create and share playlists with your friends, receive concert updates, and participate in DJ contests. It’s already got about 10 million users so don’t hang back. Bumper Sticker: An incredible range of typical bumper sticker blurbs abound in the Bumper Sticker application which allows you to view, share and use stickers on your profile and those of others. These are virtual stickers that range from the comic to the bizarre. A must-have application.
Choose a picture of your friend, apply the kind of treatment you’d like to give it, and there, you’ve got a caricature. You could post it on his wall or share it around with friends. There are a couple of other applications, which do the same thing (like Get My Caricature), and you could try those too. The effects are pretty hilarious at times and you could add this application just for kicks. Just be careful what pictures you choose to make a caricature out of unless you don’t mind getting your kicks in the real world too.
For more sober representations, opt for Sketch Me. You can choose how dark you’d like your sketch to be and then publish it for your friends.
Flixster allows you to check out who likes the same kinds of movies among friends, post and read reviews of the latest movies, find new movies that you’d never have heard about otherwise and check your knowledge of movies.
People just can’t stop taking quizzes on Facebook. These quizzes range from being sensible to funny. You can spend years answering all the different quizzes created by users. Add this application to find out which Sex and the City character you are, whether you resemble Maya Sarabhai or Sahil Sarabhai more, who you were in your past life, etc. – there are too many to cover here. If you’re really busy, skip this one. On the other hand, if you want to act busy at your computer, this is the one for you.
Organising a party or get together is usually dependent on innumerable calls to friends or family and often, by the time you end up making a concrete plan either your cell phone battery has run out or you’ve used up all your talk time. Try My Plans on Facebook that allows you to notify, share and discuss meeting plans with all your friends and family who are on Facebook, making the task a whole lot easier.
So that rounds up our list of six-pack applications for Facebook. Apart from applications, there are other cool tweaks that can enhance your interactions on Facebook