Facebook today announced new “flexible sentences” options for apps that publish to Facebook using custom Open Graph verbs.
Developers can now better control the sentence structure for stories that users share from their apps. Not only can they edit the tenses of their custom verbs, they can add additional text to provide more information about the activity. Although it adds another layer of complexity to Open Graph, this change allows developers create more compelling stories for their apps, which could lead users to share more and lead more of their friends to discover the app. See the Songkick example below, which now has added context to make it clearer what it means to “track” and artist:
To help developers prioritize which story formats to adjust, Facebook’s sentence configuration tool will now note which stories are shared and viewed most frequently. The percentage of impressions a story format receives will be listed to the right. By clicking “Edit” next to the percentage, developers can add free-form text or property expressions. Developers can also remove objects from the sentence. Facebook pointed out an example for a hiking app, which would not want to share the story “Horatio hiked a hike on Social Hiking.” Instead, it could remove the object and change the app attribution to say “Horatio hiked using Social Hiking.”
Flexible sentences are available to developers starting today, though they only apply to custom actions. Apps that use Facebook’s built-in verbs like read, watch or listen cannot be customized this way. Developers who modify their existing actions to change their tense or sentence format will need to resubmit their actions for approval.
A basic how-to for flexible sentences is available here.