Football, or soccer as its known in America, is a truly global sport. Countries and people are united by it and interest is monumental. With international football competitions, the whole world really is watching.

In 2006, 284 million people worldwide watched the World Cup final. That same year, an estimated 5.9 billion total viewers watched at least part of the month-long tournament for an average of 93 million viewers per match By comparison; America’s Superbowl had an estimated 94 million viewers in 2006.

Football fans are very enthusiastic about the sport and take it very seriously. On Facebook, the two FIFA 2009 fan pages have a combined 300,000 fans worldwide, with other football fan pages having numbers near or above one million. In the three weeks since April 15, 2009, the number of fans on these pages has grown between 0.2% and 8.2%.

In the United States alone, Facebook counts over 1.35 million of those users as having soccer (football) as one of their interests. The fans sites that these and other like minded people around the world join, turn what used to be a pastime relegated to individual matches into an around the clock marathon.

Social media enables football fanatics to post stories and videos, as well as submit additional stories or commentary. Football-related social media provides fans to keep up with news about teams in other cities or countries. In short, it allows for fans to become more engaged in a sport that previously relegated fans to a spectator role during selected periods of time.

IBT Games is helping football fans express their passion for the sport in an application that allows users to build teams and compete against other fans. IBT Game’s Street Football application has over 121,000 monthly active users. Their application reflects the international nature of the sport and the global enthusiasm for the game. While 14.7 average pages a day spent on Facebook as a whole per unique user. Users of IBT Games’ Street Football application spent a significantly larger 24.6 pages per day on the application.

My point to all these statistics is that football is a universal pastime. People across the world watch and discuss the games. Most of these people are quite passionate about the sport and want to be engaged in their pastime a lot more than just the periods in which games actually take place. Social media makes it possible to take that passion beyond the football stadium and this benefits football fans everywhere.

Sports is a topic that generates huge amounts of passion in people. Everyone has a favorite team or player. Sports fans love to discuss their teams or favorite players, brag about their performance, and make predictions about as to which team will beat which and by what score.

Social Media makes it easier to do this. With social media, fans can react to stories or videos, share them, as well as submit additional stories or commentary. Additionally, sports-related social media allows fans who don’t live in a team’s city to keep up with news related to their team and to connect with like-minded fans. In short, social media provides a means for sports fans to become more engaged with their teams, their players, and other fans.

In the United States, 74% of those aged from 18-34 have either a Facebook or a MySpace account. In America alone, Facebook counts 5.5 million people as having sports listed as an interest in their profile.  These fans have joined thousands of fan pages created by the teams or players themselves, third-party organizations, or simply by other loyal fans. Such fan pages include news, videos, and pictures, of the team or player, as well as commentary and general expressions of fandom. Several pages have over 1 million fans and many more number in the 100,000s.

The growth of sports in social media has been explosive. Just this past week, fan pages on facebook grew anywhere from 0.5% to 5.3% on the week. Cricket pages had grown even faster, with growth ranging from 6.4% to 31.1% in the same time period. To put that in more understandable terms, a 0.5% weekly increase sustained over the years is equal to a 29.6% annual increase. Likewise, a 1% weekly increase becomes a 67.7% yearly increase and a 1% weekly increase results in a 67.7% yearly increase.

On Facebook, gaming and sports account for the second and third most added type of application respectively. Games make up six of the top ten and four of the top five most addictive Facebook applications.  In early 2009, the average age of a gamer was 29, with over a third of gamers being female.

IBT Games has been a leader in sports-related gaming applications for social media. According to a recent study, average users spend an average of 2 minutes, 35 seconds interacting with applications in total. On IBT Games’ Applications, users spend 15 minutes DAILY interacting with each application; 6.5x greater than the total average application time. 85% of users who installed IBT Games applications returned for multiple interactions. Currently, dedicated users of IBT Games Applications produce over 1 million page views a day on average. 56% percent of users returned 9 or more times during the first month.

IBT Game’s Twenty Cricket application has nearly 99,000 monthly active users. IBT Game’s Street Football application has over 121,000 monthly active users. 50% of IBT Game’s titles have received accolades and recognition from prominent organizations in social media including the fBfund and Bebo. While an average of 14.7 pages a day are viewed on Facebook per unique user. Users of IBT Games’ Casino Empire application spent a whopping 40.4 pages per day on the application alone.

Marketers are taking notice of these exponential levels of growth. In a recent survey by Adology, 25% of small businesses surveyed indicated that they would increase spending on advertising in social media in 2009 versus in 2008. A 2009 survey of 880 marketers found the 88% of marketers use some form of social media in their advertising strategy. Today, sports-related companies like Adidas, Nike, Spalding, and Gatorade, all have fan pages or advertise on Facebook or other forms of social networking sites.

Social media allows companies like these to connect with the sports fans that use their products. More importantly, social media has given fans a chance to connect with their favorite teams and players, and share their passion with other fans. In doing so, a fan’s ability to express a love of sports is no longer relegated to just a ballpark.

Everyone is scratching their heads about connecting to social media. It is a new year, corporations, brands, and individuals all want to connect to social media. They just do not know where to start. Well my recommendation is to first sit and figure out your overall objectives. What are you really looking to do and why do you want to do that? 

This is really important because there are so many options now. Brands can engage with target audiences through meaningful social applications, or just twitter about upcoming new products that consumers could possibly follow. Podcasting, blogging, and making a social network are other options as well. There are just too many to choose from! You can even make a game with your product that will not only increase your brand awareness but also provide ways to monetize and acquire new customers.

We have found that connecting with social media is not just a short-term process; it is a long-term vision and solution. Whatever you choose to do, you need to make sure it is not dead in a month or a week. Updates and continuous improvement are necessary to have engaged users. 

We specialize in making it engaging and meaningful social media application. We have found success of deep user engagement with all our applications on social media platforms. By deploying various social media analytics such as Sometrics, Google Analytics, etc we are able to tweak our applications in such a way to keep users engaged. On average, users on our application spend over 15 minutes each day. This is a sign of deep user engagement. 
Feel free to contact me!

Everyone wants to get the inside scoop of the future. What exactly is the future of social media applications? We started seeing simple applications where you can do quizzes, rate friends, have top friends, poke people, super poke people but now we are starting to see more complex applications, which constitutes of sports games with complicated game engines, flash based casual games, or a mix of both.

The most important thing you need to know is that, this is a young industry that is going to grow very rapidly. More and more developers are making applications, social networks are opening up their platforms to outside developers, and everyone is talking about social media and Web 2.0. Competition will increase in time. Therefore, you need to continuously stay at the forefront and stay updated with how the platforms are evolving, if it is you want to compete in this industry.

One thing people do forget is that, users are going to get savvy as well and their expectations are going to grow faster in time. That means they will get irritated with errors, slow applications, applications that are spammy and applications that do not protect user privacy. They will expect much more than what is available now.

So what are we doing at ibtgames.com? We follow three guiding principles

1) Focus on what users want

2) Focus on making engaging applications

3) Redefine the user experience

Now what does all this mean?

Focus on things that users want, not what you think they want. It is important to make sure they are getting a value or satisfaction. Otherwise, they will probably not stay long thus not make your application engaging. So this brings to the next point, making engaging applications. You do not want to make an application where they will come and leave in 2 mins or just use it once or twice. Engage them with more options and features that will interest the users. Provide some depth by going to the next level. Think of it as providing long-term value rather than short term so this means you constantly need to redefine the user experience on your application. This involves continuously improving your application, trying to make it as error free as possible, making it faster and using current technology to improve their experience while they are on your application. Also it involves listening to the users and providing new features in a timely manner that will satisfy the user.

Check out our sports application on facebook.

Twenty20 Cricket http://apps.facebook.com/twentycricket/

So you have the next big application idea? So do I! I have thought of hundreds of application ideas flowing through my head even when I sleep. I just can’t stop thinking but but I follow one rule, if I have thought of an idea, than at least 1000 other people have thought of the same idea as well. So before you go crazy, take a little bit of time to do some quick research. So here is a few simple steps to help you figure out which application idea to go with.

1) Search on the internet such as google and social networks to see if they have your ideas first
2) Pick ideas which you find compelling and interesting. It should excite you.
3) Talk to a few friends or random people and see if it excites them as well.
4) Go back to the drawing board from your feedback, and now list the ideas.
5) Then do some in depth market research on those ideas to see what really is out there. Looking for competitors is a good start.
6) After you gather some more information, write each of the ideas down on paper and go to sleep. For each one, write down what value or user satisfaction you are trying to address. Don’t go back to the ideas for at least a few days.
7) After you leave it for a few days, look at the ideas and pick the one that seems most compelling to you from what you have written and what also excites you.

This should be an easy stress free process.

In the last several months we have been doing a lot of soul searching at Infrablue Technology to find the best place for our services in the U.S. and foreign markets as a Bangladeshi team with strong programming skills. Recently we have been having success teaming up with local web designers seeking reliable partners for back end programming. 

Speacialization makes a lot of sense when you think about it, web designers are able to focus on the creative design work and we focus on programming and implementing desings. While a lot of the web designers have experience programming their own work, many of them prefer to focus specifically on design work and that is where we come in.

As Infrablue nurtures its partnerships with web designers we will be on the look out for other opportunities in the market.

The trend is in web 2.0. Everyone is looking to startup their on web2.0 company. There are so many posts on craigslist, e-lance, rent a coder etc to develop web2.0 sites It’s crazy out there. I, myself started a new website called www.goSwoop.com with a group of people and it was tough. So here is my advice for the newbies looking to start up your own web2.0 or social networking and dealing with developers. Think of this as a basic 101.

First get your concept and idea down on paper. Once you have finalized that, you need to start thinking about what features you want for your website. Now here is an important advice: DON’T JUST PUT DOWN ON PAPER, I WANT EVERYTHING FACEBOOK HAS! That is not the best thing to do. Seriously think through the objective and goals you want to accomplish with your site. Then make a list of the features you want for example, messaging is a feature, personal profile, registration, photo alumbs are other features. Another term for “feature” is module.

Once you know what you want you need to think through everything that you want on the website that means all the features you could possibly think of in the next 3 years. The reason why it is important to layout everything is so that when the developers start designing (not graphical) database mainly they will know to keep things open so that in the future, features can be incorporated easily.

Then once you have completed that. Prioritize each feature and start writing out the objectives for each feature. So go through them write down the objective or goal you would like to accomplish with the feature, the expected output and the benefit or value the feature will create for the user. This will help you understand how the feature will help accomplish your overall goal or objective of the site and help you prioritize what you need.

Once you have done that, pick the features you want for a version 1 release. For each Version 1 feature, write down as much detail as possible as how you want the feature to work. Describe how you envision it to work and also if it will some how connect with other features as well. Then the rest of the features that are not on version 1 can be part of your version 2 release.

This will take time, but once you have this it will be a good start. It is important to clearly write down on paper or on a computer document. The more information you provide the easier it will be for the developer or outsourcing company to give you an accurate estimate. The worst thing to do is, “hey i want a site just like facebook please give me a quote.” That is the worst nightmare for a web development company because it is hard to accurately provide estimates because they don’t know what exactly you want. Facebook or other social networking websites are huge.

stay tuned for more on this topic got to go now!

This is the beginning of the IBT WordPress blog. Look out for our advices and strategies for web development.