I’ve spent the afternoon and evening digging into Facebook’s new social plugins and Open Graph features. The graphics below show my understanding of how these new features work for website owners integrating them. The new social features can be divided into the following categories:
- Page engagement
- Page interaction
- Like for Facebook pages
- Like for Website pages
These plugins help site owners encourage users to explore the site or dig into a page, by highlighting interest and activity from the user’s Facebook friends or Facebook users, in general.
These plugins make it easier for users to interact on the website–with the added benefit of making it easier for users to share those interactions on Facebook, of course. The Comment box provides basic comment functionality for the page–just like comment functionality on blogs–plus a share to Facebook ability. The Live Stream box is designed to be used during live events hosted on the site.
The Facebook pages didn’t have graphics showing these plugins, but the one lets users log in to the website. The second apparently shows the user’s Facebook friends who have logged into the site at some point, indicating to users that their friends like this site.
Like for Facebook Pages
Replacing the Become a Fan feature, Like performs the same function for Facebook pages. But now you can become a fan from the website and without leaving it. The Like box shows the user’s friends who also liked the page. The new Liked page will appear on the user’s profile.
Like for Website Pages
The biggest change is that the Like button can now be used to become a “fan” of any page on any website, not use a Facebook page. Like a page makes that page a part of Facebook’s data set and social graph. The user’s wall will show a message “Jane likes xyz page on abc site.” The page also becomes accessible through Facebook search. But when the user clicks to go to the page, they go to YOUR website page, outside of Facebook.
Key to note is that Facebook is letting website owners have access to these user’s walls. If I like a website page, that page is added to Facebook’s data set. The website owner is the admin for the page and the website page is treated similarly to traditional Facebook fan pages. The admin can “post” to the website page and that post gets put on the wall of any fans of the page. In other words, if you click the Like button on a website page, expect to see messages on your wall from that website.
I’m not going to weigh in totally, yet. I’ll save that for another post. I’ll just say that I’m wondering if giving this kind of access to users’ streams is going to pay for Facebook. I’ve fanned just a few traditional Facebook fan pages, and I find my stream is often so cluttered with posts from these fan pages that I have a hard time finding my friends’ latest posts. This is only going to make the problem worse. Is that really what Facebook users want? Or just the businesses Facebook is catering to?