Success of Status Shuffle App Shows That Users Want Entertainment on Facebook

facebook apps, humor, social networks

The Status Shuffle app, which has 1.8 million unique iPhone installations and 3.5 million monthly unique users on Facebook.com, was designed to help users create clever status updates for Facebook but it’s taken off as a source of entertainment, according to Social Graph Studios CEO Oz Solomon.

The app allows users to shuffle through status updates others have contributed. The have the option to edit and re-post them as their own status updates. Humor and inspiration are the two most popular categories.

Status Shuffle launched version 2.0 for iPhone earlier this week, featuring a cleaner user experience and enabling swiping.

Users look to the app for entertainment, rather than as a solution to social writer’s block. They spend 10 minutes at a time sorting through the messages, according to Social Graph. Comedians use the app as a platform to test out jokes.

However lighthearted, any successful app relies on serious technology: a good algorithm.

“The app looks pretty simple, but underneath there’s a pretty sophisticated engine that tries to figure out what you’re going to like,” Solomon said.

In fact, Status Shuffle may be able to give Facebook some advice on how to sort information, including promoted content, in users’ news feeds—something Facebook has struggled with since it first expanded beyond campus walls. The news feed continues to feature two sorting options to allow users to decide which method works better for them.

Status Shuffle has included promoted content, including campaigns with Fortune 500 companies. To date, commercial content has remained separate from user-generated content. Status Shuffle may start integrating promoted messages with user-generated messages like Facebook has done.

The company has a pretty clear view of which commercial content is most successful with users. And Solomon doesn’t use words like “useful” and “relevant,” favorites with platforms including Google and Facebook, to describe it.

“Things that were successful were always things that were funny,” he said.

Writing an algorithm that delivers content to those most likely to enjoy it is no easy task, Solomon acknowledges. But, based on his app’s analytics, Facebook has lost yardage in its efforts to improve EdgeRank while also incorporating more advertising.

Changes to EdgeRank made about a year ago resulted in fewer likes and comments for each status in Status Shuffle, Solomon said.

“So what we saw is that they were trying to improve the matching but they were actually making it worse,” he said.

Earlier this week, Mark Cuban said Facebook takes itself too seriously by prioritizing serious content over entertainment. (Cuban continues to beat the drum on Twitter.)

Later changes have improved the performance of Status Shuffle’s content, but Facebook still isn’t back to where it was.

“EdgeRank leaves a lot to be desired,” Solomon said.

Mark Cuban agrees.

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