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Would it be better to require this authorization when the user first lands, or let them play the app first and only prompt them once they try to enter the sweepstakes?

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Don't bother them until the very last moment when you absolutely have to... –  Marjan Venema May 15 '13 at 6:12

2 Answers 2

I'm not sure I understand your question, but this seems slightly similar to the $300 Million Dollar Button issue to me:

The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button. In its place, they put a Continue button with a simple message: "You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout."

The results: The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.

Basically, don't get in the way of the user experience until/unless it is absolutely necessary.

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This is a different problem, the $300M was an ecommerce website where people can buy multiple things and spend time choosing which item to buy, in this question, the user just needs to enter the sweepstake. End of it, there is no choice. –  rk. May 15 '13 at 0:06
    
True, but I think the general idea of not bothering the user unless it is necessary stands. The two choices are, A) stop users from using the app until they sign up, or B) Let them use the app, and if they choose to enter the sweepstakes, let them do so. Similar to A) Stop users from buying products until they sign up or B) Let users buy things, and if they choose to sign up, let them. –  you786 May 16 '13 at 3:12

If the app does something besides the sweepstakes, it might make sense to require authorization at the moment they want to enter sweepstakes. This way your users will first make a connection (a bond) with your website and then authorizing your app with facebook will be perceived as a less of a barrier ('I know something about the app, therefore I trust it more').

Another option is to let your users enter the sweepstakes, but ask for authorization to see the results (at the very last step). This way you might get even more users authorizing: they already did what they wanted to do (entered sweepstakes) and results are there (or a user thinks they are), so the only little thing left to see the results is authorize with Facebook (which is free and requires little effort). It is psychologically much easier to continue an action you already started (or nearly finished) even if there are slight obstacles like authorization, than to start a new action that requires going through the obstacles first.

It is also important to describe to your users what happens after facebook authorization, so they won't expect anything that is not going to happen. Don't request any permissions that are not necessary, because it might lower the amount of people who actually go through the authorization process. For example, if your app isn't going to post to the timeline, don't ask for permissions to post.

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