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What is the best way to auto find users their friends in a social networking app?

I'm building a social messaging/networking app. In the beta version of my app, I had used WhatsApp's approach to authentication that uses phone numbers to authenticate and uses the user's contact book to find them their friends.

We received a couple important feedback points from our beta testers: 1. They wouldn't have gone through with authentication if this weren't a beta app that I had invited them to. They don't like the idea of giving away their phone numbers. 2. When they signed in, they found no friends there. They wondered whether there were an easy way to somehow see their friends in-app rather than coming away feeling that they had just entered the most deserted place on the planet.

In light of feedback #1, we switched to Facebook authentication, and we were hoping to work with the user's social graph on FB, but FB has changed some of itspolicies in a way that we are only able tofetch those of the user's friends who are already members on our app.

I'd like to get both general and specific suggestions/lessons learnt from fellow founders who've had to deal with user authentication, on boarding, and user acquisition in a mobile app in the social networking space. Thoughts are much appreciated.

Thanks!

3 Replies

Thomas Jay
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Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
I just got thru spending the last 11 months doing exactly this with the exact same issues and results.

I can give you a high level view.

1 - Users do not want to give contacts, there is no reason to invite your doctor to a social app and you don't want your ex-wife to be on the same social app your on.

2 - Facebook's change only gives you people who have the app installed, so much for Facebook.

So now your limited to a couple of solutions. You can make it location based so show everyone in an area and provide the concept of public vs private profiles, then people will have to opt in to being find-able. Users can then "Request" to get connected, this is the same as the Facebook model, this works very well.

You can also have the concept of public posts where everyone will see these and can follow the person, again they have to request an invite to connect.

In both cases the user will have to "Request" to connect with others, I do this very successfully in one of my apps that I have over 2.5M users, its very focused on a type of user and they all have a common goal (They want to be movie stars) so there is a very high rate of connection being accepted since there is always a possibility of being "Discovered" and becoming a star.

The largest and most expensive social app I worked on had the same issues that you do so the marketing was changed to focus on a specific group, these groups were found in common locations so the invitation process was changed to allow people in a group created by location to see each other, think of everyone at a bar now being able to see others in the bar but if they leave the bar they can no longer see each other unless they have sent a message between each other which then connects you.

I have also created location based groups with iBeacons, this has yet to be successful but has received interest in people wanting to see how it works, I have beacons in major transit / party areas so people can see events going on and connect with event organizers and attendees. I've yet to make any measurements on success or fail on this system.


Jonathan Goldfinger
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Jonathan Goldfinger Entrepreneur • Advisor
National Director, Healthy Steps, ZERO TO THREE; Founder, CEO, latchME: breastfeed easier
Great fixes Thomas. We're dealing with a very similar issue on my app latchME, which crowd-sources breastfeeding supports (mothers included) for new mothers. What is your app for movie stars-to-be called? I'd love to see how it works if that's ok.

Once they opt in, how does the app show them people? On a map or as listings? Do they see their location and movement in real-time? Like on Uber....

I ask because we're trying to create an on-demand feature for our app including booking professional consults, but it's proven difficult even in design phase. I want users to see other users, and have a positive experience engaging other mothers and professionals alike but maybe in different, helpful ways.

Hope this makes sense.

-Jon

Ryo Hang
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Ryo Hang Entrepreneur
Do More
I stumbled upon this post in the email, hope following response is helpful to you.

In light of feedback #1, we switched to Facebook authentication, and we were hoping to work with the user's social graph on FB, but FB has changed some of itspolicies in a way that we are only able tofetch those of the user's friends who are already members on our app.

This is not entirely true. Since it's pretty technically , i don't think you can get accurate answer on this forum. You better search stackoverflow or google. I have attached one of the answer for you.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/23417356/facebook-graph-api-v2-0-me-friends-returns-empty-or-only-friends-who-also-u
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