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Communicating Directly with Your Users via Email

January 20, 2010ByArjun Banker

Facebook Platform has evolved since its launch in 2007, providing developers with a number of different communication channels to interact with their users. In October 2009 we announced a roadmap for developers that outlined a number of improvements including direct and simplified communication between developers and users. Today we're delivering on this commitment by providing a simple way for users to share their email addresses with you via a process designed to reduce friction and empower application and Facebook Connect developers to manage their relationship with users.

While we're making the process of requesting email addresses more streamlined today, some developers have been communicating with users through this channel for some time. For example, LivingSocial has been sending emails to users of Visual Bookshelf for the past two years, consistently driving 10% of traffic to the application. They have found emails are most successful when they provide users with dynamically-generated content (such as a listing or books a user has marked as "currently reading" or a feed of all friend activity). More engaging messages generated above-average click-through rates of 5-12%.

How It Works

Once the feature goes live tonight, you will be able to ask users to share their primary Facebook email address with you so that you can communicate with them directly. We recommend you use email to send them interesting and relevant information, like receipts for purchases they make, messages to help reactivate them if they haven't visited your application or integration in a while, or newsletters promoting new features or contests.

You'll ask users to share their primary email address with you by prompting them through the existing email extended permission (users will still have the ability to choose to share a proxied email address instead). You will also have the ability to require users to share their email addresses in order to use your application or Facebook Connect integration. Once the user has shared his or her email address with you, you can store it indefinitely, within CAN-SPAM Act regulations. If a user has already chosen to share a proxied email address with you via the extended permission, you can continue to email the user at that address.

As always, we expect Facebook Platform applications and Facebook Connect integrations to adhere to the Facebook Platform policies and provide users with a trustworthy experience. Developers will also be held to the Federal Trade Commission's CAN-SPAM act, and so we encourage you to become familiar with the guidelines associated with emailing users. Those developers who do not comply with these policies will face enforcement, which may include removal from Facebook Platform.

Learn how you can request email address access by reading the documentation.

We'll also give all canvas applications the ability to prompt users to share their email address via a dialog at the top of all canvas pages. Read the documentation to see how to set this dialog to appear.

We've been updating our Developer Roadmap with details about this launch, and details about a number of upcoming launches, including the new Games and Applications Dashboards and changes to the home page. This is the best place to find out details about what's coming up next.

As always, please share your feedback with us in the Developer Forum.

Arjun, an engineer on the Platform team, likes hearing it straight from the source.