MetaMe Postmortem

I’m going to talk a little bit today about our first project, MetaMe.
This post will be relatively brief, as I’m unsure many will be interested in my digressions on the subject.

To start with, let’s address the core concept:

Most of the “get info about your Facebook” apps are fairly ad-laden, with no regard for design, and still wildly popular. We thought that having a cleanly set up, organized interface would have made us more desirable. Part of the problem, I think, is that Facebook apps have this kind of mentality where the information is supposed to be right there in front of you. A menu is an alien concept to this land, and ours was a little busy. Still, the interface is pretty solid (and I may wind up proposing theft of it for a future project), and despite the potential confusing excess of information we threw at the user, I think it works quite well.

The first problem, really, was in the apps. We got excited about the kinds of information that we could present, and what ways we could look at the data we had. My Terms, for example, seemed like a very good idea to us. In many ways, it still does.
But the problem with My Terms leads into the greater, over-arching problem:
Everything about the app needed an explanation, and we didn’t do the best job of explaining it. Not that I think it would have helped.

We had one successful module in our application: the Photo Mosaic.
Even now that it’s not as popular as it was, it’s still the only module with notably positive reception when demonstrating the app. This is because it requires no explanation: See picture. Want picture? Click here, get picture.
And despite all the charts and graphs and visualizations of our other modules, this is the only one with that reaction.

It was, after all, through the Photo Mosaic module that we enjoyed what little success the application brought.
Our application was actually released twice, over the course of about two weeks. The first release saw an unmetered Photo Mosaic app, which not only gave you a mosaic of all of your friends’ profile pictures, but tagged each of them in it as well. This meant every time anyone made a mosaic with us, it notified all of their friends of the image they were tagged in. We started by tagging and sharing with all of our friends: a few thousand, all told. Within two days, we were seeing that many new users using the application per hour, and this was the peak of our constant incline in use. It snowballed, and that was exciting.
Now, I’ll admit the insidiousness of this ‘advertising’ method, and it is what quite quickly got the app taken down. And, unfortunately, when we came back up, we had zero momentum or actionalble userbase. And after spending hundreds of dollars on ads, nothing turned out to be even remotely as effective.

So where did we go wrong? We tend to believe nowadays that maybe we shouldn’t have developed the app in the first place. Except for Mosaic, that’s probably true.