Facebook Announces More Ways to Publish to Users Who Click Like Buttons

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By Josh Constine Comment

Millions of websites and social games have implemented Facebook’s Like button social plugin, yet relatively few are taking advantage of the capability to publish news feed stories to users that click buttons that represent real-world objects. In an effort to increase awareness of this option, Facebook posted to the Developers Blog explaining three ways admins can publish to their Like buttons, including through the new “Use Facebook as Page” feature.

The blog post, and our own conversations with Open Graph page owners, indicate that many web publishers, brands, and game developers don’t know that when users click their Open Graph Like buttons on real-world objects, they’re not only creating a link back to the content on their wall, but are also subscribing to future news feed updates. This option, launched at last year’s f8, allows admins to engage a subset of their audience with highly relevant updates.

Note that Like buttons that have the meta tag og:type set to “Article” — those for digital content such as news articles, blog posts, photos, videos, and in some cases, digital representations of retail items — do not have publishing rights and do not appear in the Interests section of a user’s profile.

For instance, film site IMDB has Like buttons on every film, character, actor, and more on their website. It provides news and reviews of a wide variety of films, from family films to horror movies. If the IMDB Facebook Page posted an updated about a new list of top 10 children’s films, only a small part of their audience would find it interesting, while a large portion of their audiences would find the update irrelevant or even spammy, leading them to click the Unlike button.

Instead, IMDB could publish the update about family films to only those users who’ve clicked Like buttons on any of their family films. By sending niche-specific updates to those who Like that type of content, IMDB can send higher relevancy updates more frequently but to less people, increasing click through rates and driving more traffic to their website without spamming all 585,000 fans of their Facebook Page.

Previously, admins could publish to their Like buttons on real-world objects programmatically through the Graph API by following the Open Graph page documentation, or by clicking the “Admin Page” link that admins see next to the Like buttons on their site or game.

Now, admins can also publish to their Like buttons through the “Use Facebook as Page” option released as part of the 2011 Page redesign. By clicking the Account drop-down menu in the top right corner of the Facebook window and selecting “Use Facebook as Page”, or by visiting the Page Manager, admins can select to use Facebook as one of their Like buttons. They can then post updates through the Publisher just as they would with a traditional Facebook Page.

News feed stories published through any of these means will display the name of the Like button’s content, an image and blurb if available, the story’s own Like button.

As more admins realize they have this option, users will begin to see more stories in their news feeds from Like buttons they’ve clicked. Any Open Graph Like of a real-world object that has publishing privileges appears in the Interests section of the user’s profile, and from there users can visit the original site and Unlike them if they want.

Open Graph Likes without publishing privileges — those of news articles and other digital content, don’t appear in the profile, and and can only be Unliked from the activity feed post about the original Like, or by visiting the original site.

The option to publish to Like buttons will help users see high-quality niche content about specific pieces of content they care about from across the web.

Update: The original version of this article included a critique of Facebook under the incorrect belief that not all Open Graph Likes with publishing privileges could be managed from the Interests section of the profile. All Likes with publishing privileges do in fact appear in the profile and can be Unliked from there if the user desires. Only Likes of websites with the meta tag og:type “Article”, which don’t have publishing privileges, do not appear in the profile.

Therefore, Facebook has provided adequate Open Graph management options. The mistake stemmed from Urban Outfitter’s use of Like buttons with og:type “Article” on their products, despite them representing real-world objects. There is no additional risk to the quality of a user’s news feed in Liking Open Graph objects than in Liking traditional Facebook Pages. We apologize for the inaccuracy.

To access our in-depth guide to Like button publishing including strategies for ecommerce stores, news sites, and applications as well as tips to keep your Pages and Like buttons from being Unliked, check out the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s comprehensive manual to marketing through Facebook.

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