15 May 2013 | Team Tamar

10 top tips for living in harmony with social apps and games

henry-app-spam

If your Facebook or Twitter feed is anything like mine, yesterday’s announcement that Candy Crush Saga has become the world’s most played game may have inspired a few heated debates about how annoyed people get with “app spam” updates.

As somebody who both loves and loathes apps – loving them for their ingenuity and fun, hating them for the crap they fill my feed with – I often get asked how to fix various gripes people have with them.

So, now seemed like as good a time as any to jot down a few tips that the average app/game user might find handy, to help us all live in harmony with those pesky apps.

Here’s my top 10 tips for living in harmony with your apps…

1) Block, block, block

No, this isn’t my simplified strategy for winning at Tetris. This is the handy but often under-used facility for you to block almost anything from your Facebook feed. Getting fed-up of being told your friend guessed a song in Songpop? Block it. Don’t care if somebody sent you a micropig for your non-existent farm? Block it! And all without having to defriend the perpetrator. Here’s how you do it – either from your feed itself, or from the “Games Feed” page

block-apps

2) Know your settings

If you’re an avid app user, it’s worth knowing how to change the settings of the app from inside Facebook. The most common offender is the “Allow the app to post on my behalf” setting within the “App Settings” section of your account, which you can change (or remove) as below:

app-settings2

Remember, apps can often trick you in to changing your settings from another device (playing on your mobile is the most obvious), AND they can often tempt you with goodies or rewards for turning them back on. So keep a close eye on it and check your settings regularly.

UPDATE: I’m told by Facebook that using the “Visibility of app and posts” box is another good way to remove the status updates about your use of the app from other feeds. So there you go!

3) See it from their perspective

This is something people often forget when getting confused about their app settings: Just because you can’t see it on YOUR feed or wall, doesn’t mean it isn’t showing up on your friends’ feeds. Everybody has a different mix of content in their feed, and apps you use will often post updates that you yourself can’t see.

4) Don’t be afraid to block

Even if you use a particular app yourself, you can still block Facebook from showing other people’s updates from that app in your feed. It won’t affect your own enjoyment of the app.

5) Don’t blame people

37840947Sounds like woolly advice I know, but I’ve lost count of the number of petty squabbles I have seen break out because one friend is seeing too many updates from another friend’s apps – when said friend didn’t even realise the app was posting on their behalf. So before you get upset, why not ask your friend if they realised they had apps which were flooding your feed with updates?

6) Apps can be tricksy, Precious!

A lot of apps will try to con you in to inviting your friends to play, without actually telling you that is what they are doing. If you get prompted with a “X friend hasn’t played in a while – send them a life?” Prompt, check that the people it is listing ARE actually players. You may be unwittingly allowing the app to send them a notification that you want them to join you in the game.

7) People get bored!

If your app presents you with a list of friends who are using the app too, and offers you the chance to interact with them, keep a close eye on how often they actually respond. It may be they have stopped using the app, and you are unwittingly plastering their feed with invites which are being ignored – or worse still, the app might be trying to trick you in to inviting them back.

8) Twitter counts too

37840983 Most of these rules can be applied just as easily to Twitter. If your feed is becoming flooded with FourSquare check-ins, Runkeeper updates or GetGlue badges, chances are the poster may not even realise their app is posting in their behalf.

9) Mobile in the mix

If you are using an app which also exists on your mobile device, be aware that action you take on one CAN have an affect on the other. Not a lot of people realise, but items you “purchase” in an app (for real money) can’t be passed between your mobile app and your Facebook app – they payment systems (currently) ban that. However, your mobile app can easily alter your social sharing options, so keep an eye on what one version is doing to the other.

10) Have fun.

With all these warnings and tips, it’s easy to forget that apps are ultimately created to enhance our lives – so don’t be scared to use them. Just follow these simple tips and keep a close eye on what your app is doing in the background.

Team Tamar