Facebook iPhone Users Can Find, Share Links Without Browsers

By David Cohen Comment

AddALinkTeaser

Users of Facebook’s iPhone application can now find and share links without having to open Web browsers.

Clicking on the paper clip icon beneath the status update form brings users to the Add a Link menu, where they can enter keywords into a search box to find content that has already been shared to the social network and easily reshare that content with their friends.

Engineering manager Tom Whitnah described the motivation behind Add a Link in a post on Facebook’s engineering blog:

In January, Rousseau Kazi, a product manager who works on search, was frustrated again by how hard it was to share a link on his iPhone. He had to leave Facebook, open a browser, go to a Web search engine, enter keywords, scroll to the result, open it, copy the URL, go back to Facebook, paste the URL and then—at long last—post and share the link. It’s exhausting just writing that!

Rousseau thought there had to be a better way to share links. Back in December, we introduced a feature that let you search for posts that had been shared with you. He realized that Facebook already had a terrific index of what people would likely want to share: links that had previously been shared by others. So he created a prototype, showed it to a few colleagues and then rallied a small team to build it out at a hackathon.

Whitnah also detailed the thought process during the creation of the new feature:

We designed this feature, like most products at Facebook, for rapid data analysis and experimentation. Within a few hours of kicking off our pilot, we were able to get really key insights, including:

  • What percentage of people who started the flow ended up attaching a link?
  • How did different designs perform, and how did they affect other types of sharing?
  • What kinds of link suggestions helped people use the product?
  • What types of queries were people entering, and what types of content were they sharing?

Over time, we answered key questions about how often people returned to the experience. If they used it once, were they more likely to follow through the next time they opened it up? We used this data to iterate on our designs, ranking and initial link suggestions. There were many dynamic parameters we could update in real time, so on our first day, we were already using this data to improve the experience. We also tried to understand which parts of the experience were working and which parts weren’t, as well as the types of queries that weren’t returning high-quality results. After more iteration, we launched the product today.

iPhone users: Have you tried the new Add a Link feature? What are your thoughts?

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