At 14 Oranges, we integrate Facebook with many of our client’s projects so when we heard that Facebook was making an appearance here in Vancouver, we were excited to check it out. fbStart is a new program Facebook is rolling out that encourages Startups and App developers to use their tools.

Facebook hosted an evening event last Tuesday at The Hive downtown to share some information about the latest and greatest of their offerings and how app developers and startups can benefit from taking part.

If you haven’t heard of the Hive before it is a collaborative workspace located next door to Lighthouse Labs. Facebook had arranged for catering including beer and wine so the event was way better than I expected (free wine is my catnip! – kirsten)

Facebook sent up around 7 Facebook employees from Seattle and the Bay Area which included a range of engineers and managers. One of the staffers asked me about my ‘little red flower’ (snerk – kirsten) as she noticed lots of people wearing them and since she’s not from Canada, had no idea what they were for (this makes me want to watch Saving Private Ryan – kirsten).

Matt from Facebook did most of the speaking starting off by welcoming us and giving us a bit of an overview about what they were going to cover. The presentation covered three topics:

  1. FbStart program

As mentioned above, fbStart is a program geared at startups and app developers. This program provides them with lots of free tools and direct support from Facebook engineers. Some more info on fbStart can be found here and here

  1. The Facebook SDK

Matt went on to discuss the Facebook SDK and specifically some of the newer features. These features include: a sharing dialog via the native FB app, a message dialog via native FB Messenger app and FB login plus its use in your apps.  

One of the more interesting parts to this topic were the ideas Matt presented on growing your app. Matt talked about deep linking back to your app from ads ensuring you target specific audiences to specific areas of the app.

Another topic that was definitely of interest to the startups in the room was advertising through Facebook. Matt recommended using using a video or a series of photos because they drive more conversions.  The room got excited when they mentioned FREE Facebook ad credits when you get accepted to the FbStart program.

Matt went on to discuss some more detail on Facebook Ads, specifically focusing on how advertisers can create custom audiences though very specific targeting of truly accurate demographics.

Matt handed the mic over to another Facebooker, this time an expert in the Facebook analytics platform.

  1. Facebook Analytics

One of the most interesting and slightly scary things I learned at this presentation was that if you have the Facebook app installed on your device, app developers can track user demographics (that’s normal – kirsten). The user data is anonymous to the developers but the very detailed demographics information available to the developers can allow them to create very targeted ads or content. Facebook advertisers can then create a custom lookalike audience using analytic statistics for testing purposes.

Most of the other analytic features seemed very similar to Google Analytics and aren’t really worth delving into.


Matt was back at the mike for the Q&A section which actually was one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening. During the mingling portion, there was an informal Q&A session as well, which gave us all a chance to ask some more detailed questions and schmooze with him.

Please enjoy a few paraphrased highlights of the Q&A session.

Q “What percentage of the applicants to the fbStart program are accepted?”

A “Let’s put it this way, the most likely reason you wouldn’t be accepted would be you didn’t fill the form out correctly.” (this is true for life – kirsten)

Q “Is there a way to implement 2 factor authentication with” {something or other…}

A “Facebook Login implements 2 factor authentication. So use Facebook login and you are using 2 factor authentication”

Q “With the Lookalike audiences, are you able to see what info specifically is being used to create that audience.”

A “No” (well then..- kirsten)

Overall I feel like the fbStart program was a good idea and Facebook was on the right track taking it to the streets so to speak. That being said, the presentation itself just didn’t have the required substance or detail to make it the hugely successful event that it could have been. Facebook advertised Parse in its intro to this event but there was no mention of it and when a question was asked about Parse, they simply shrugged it off saying they didn’t have anyone from Parse there. Strange, because that’s part of the reason I attended.

I felt like I got a salad course with the promise of dessert, but someone forgot to include the steak and potatoes. Fingers crossed they improve the presentation for the next cities because there’s a lot of value in the content.


Facebook’s fbStart Seminar: Couldn’t Get off the Ground