Motorola DevBlog: Android Developer On the Benefits of Social Integration

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Motorola’s Developer Blog recently interviewed the Chris Glode, Mobile Product Manager, at MapMyFitness. MapMyFitness is a suite of web and mobile tools and a community of runners, cyclists and all types of fitness enthusitasts. There are several apps like it on BlackBerry, and perhaps devs in general would benefit from a few of the tips and info. Like any conversation with a developer, they’re always heavily guarded when it comes to actual numbers (which is really where the value is), so the conversation isn’t as helpful as it could have been. Regardless, we’ve taken a few of the helpful tidbits.

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MapMyFitness started in 2005 and began because Google released the Google Maps apis, and the company saw an obvious need for more location-based fitness applications. MapMyFitness has a couple mobile apps: MapMyRun and MapMyRide, as well as MapMyFitness, MapMyWalk, MapMyHike and MapMyRace. Today, over half of MapMyFitness’ new user traffic comes from mobile devices, and the company believes social helped a great deal in making user acquisition an easier process. Here are some good excerpts:

Q: How long have you guys been on Android?

A: We launched our Android app in early 2009. We started out with 2 applications and in just the last 9 months we added 3 more apps to our suite of Android apps. We’re seeing tremendous growth in the Android platform.

Q: How does social play a big part in your applications to increase the engagement with your users, and increase coming back to the app?

A: Using social to reduce friction around identity type activities like registration and log in has been crucial for us. When we introduced a less frictional registration process on mobile, we increased our conversion by well over 2x. By integrating the app with social, we reduced our sign in/reg down to 2 steps, and now we get more sign ins. We now have more information about users so that we can engage them in different ways. We can use that for email retention campaigns, we can give them more data around what they have been doing and create a richer cross-platform experience for them.

Q: Tell us more about social authentication and sharing features within the app? What social networking patterns do you work with?

A: This is a really important decision to make because there are pros and cons to taking this approach. We use a tool called Gigya. It gives developers the access to integrate social sign in once and we get access to over 15 social networks, and their stats and a dashboard on the web that gives information about what social networks are users are using. There’s a variety of companies out there that have these sort of tools. Depending on the nature or your app and what you want to do, there are certain disadvantages to using a tool. As an example, when Facebook or Twitter releases a new version of their SDK you’re going to be a couple of steps behind in the chain because you’ve got to wait for your provider to update their SDK and test it before you finally get your hand on it. So if you really want to go deep with a given social network and your app fits really well with a given social network you may be better off just focusing your efforts on that one social network, and stay on top of all the features that they offer.

Q: How long did it take to integrate Gigya into your app?
A: For implementing and testing and you’re using a third –party SDK for social sign in; you’re looking at about 3-5 days of development.

Q: Why did you integrate social sharing into your app?

A: The mobile initiated social posts are one of the huge drivers back to our website. So that in turn creates more registered users and more activity in the site, which then generates more downloads of our apps. We use tools like Google Analytics therefore we know that a lot of the referral traffic is coming from Facebook and Twitter. When you form your social post you have to be thinking about what’s important to my business and what is important to the user.

So it really seems that if user acquisition is central to your business, then social integration is essential. If you’d like to listen to the whole podcast, we have it embedded above. You can also get the full transcript of the podcast at this link.