The rise of Facebook Developer Garage shows the scale of the revolution taking place before us. When I first started going, some 18mths or two years back, it was a small get-together held in Sun’s offices. Perhaps 50 people attended on a busy day. Yesterday when I went, there were perhaps just shy of 500 people at Freemason’s hall. Sure, the event has grown in reputation, and deservedly so. But there’s one crucial driving force behind the success: Facebook. When I first started going, Facebook was a slight curiosity among web app developers. Some far-out types were developing for it, and there were some serious firms building impressive valuations in the US. But to describe Facebook apps as being truly mainstream would be an exaggeration. Nowadays, everything’s changed. Whilst you still don’t do your banking on Facebook, you can do pretty much everything else. More and more I’m seeing firms for who a Facebook application and marketing strategy isn’t just a nice-to-have, but an integral part of their corporate strategy – both on and off the platform.

As such, Facebook Developer Garage is the premier regular event for the development and marketing community at present. However, you may be surprised to learn that very little of what’s discussed is actually exclusive to Facebook, and even non-Facebook firms could benefit greatly from attending. Despite the ridiculously low entry price (less than a tenner, and you get pizza and beer in the price), the content is on a par with conferences costing hundreds of times more. The quality of speakers is excellent, with quickfire presentations from internationally renowned names, as well as upstart SME’s that even the fledglings can relate to.

What surprised me most about last night’s presentations was the overwhelming focus on metrics. What should be clear to observers is that metrics is where you make you money. Anyone can write a game, but if you don’t measure and manage the conversions on your entry funnel, then improve the monetisation and retention thereafter, then you’ve got a parlour trick, not a business. Speaker after speaker focussed on the how-to’s and why-should’s of metrics management.

A summary of some of the more notable presentations:

Aaron Huang introduced the 7 deadly social metrics. So if you don’t know what K-factor is, you should have been there. He looked at trends and hard data, as well as just principles – giving an up to date assessment of the state of play on the platform at present.
Pierre Santamaria spoke about the techniques being used to drive major brands forward. Did you know that the ‘like’ button can be used to sign people up to an autoresponder that pushes content to their homepage? No? Well neither did I. Another highlight was discussion of the management techniques used to implement a metrics-led approach into reluctant creative teams.
Simon Cross of Facebook offered one of the more technical talks, and explained various A/B testing procedures which can be run using Facebook Likes.
David Kramaley of Sharkius was one of the youngest speakers. He runs a small games studio in Silicon Roundabout. His talk was a professional and detailed breakdown of how to go beyond core metrics in game management, and he covered issues such as time-to-pay, mean deposit values, etc. This was a must see for anyone moving to the next level in their financial mastery of applications.
Dave Nattriss gave the lowdown on what’s hot and what’s not, based on hard data. Did you know that Farmville had been usurped? Me neither.

So if you’re developing on Facebook, or you want some high-quality training (with food thrown in) for little more than the price of a travelcard, head on down to Facebook Developer Garage. Look it up on Facebook!