Facebook Celebrates the Like Button’s 1st Birthday By Showing Off Its Footprint

By Josh Constine Comment

One year ago today at the f8 conference, Facebook released the Like button, its Open Graph social plugin for showing affinity for content on third-party websites. The company has now tells us that the site, and most frequently the Like button, have been added to many of the world’s largest sites according to comScore Media. These include all of the top 10 sports properties, 9 of the top 10 news/information properties, 9 of the top 10 entertainment properties, and 18 of the top 25 Comscore U.S. retail sites.

Other stats about the button’s performance that Facebook has shared in the past include:

  • 10,000 websites integrate with Facebook each day
  • More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook (including over 80 of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and over half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites)
  • Over half of the 25 fastest growing Comscore U.S. retail sites use Facebook
  • Media sites that adopt the Like button average a greater than 300% increase in referral traffic from Facebook

The plugin’s widespread integration helps Facebook in many ways. The Like button helps users share their affinity for things in the most streamlined way possible. Rather than have to click through a third-party designed Facebook sharing panel, such as the popular Add This, and manually assemble a story to share, Facebook’s Like button lets users share with one-click. If they choose, they can add a comment afterwords for more context. This streamlined flow seems to have performed better than Facebook’s old Share button which did much of the same but slower, leading Facebook to phase out the Share button.

Most visibly, the Like button gets Facebook’s name and logo in front a huge audience, encouraging those without accounts to join. When clicked it produces content for the site and news feed, leading to increased engagement. The referral traffic generated by the buttons demonstrates the value of the site to brands, leading them to spend more to advertise their Pages.

The Like Box, which allows sites to display a Like button for their Facebook Page, creates more connections to Pages that advertisers can target. This granular interest targeting allows Facebook to charge more and draw more spend. The plugin also entrenches Facebook, putting up barriers to entry for other social networks. In an effort to gain some of same advantages, Google recently introduced its similar +1 button.

There’s also speculation about how the Like button is a beachhead that lays the groundwork for Facebook to one day launch an as-yet-unconfirmed Open Graph ad unit — one that would allow sites to target ads at their visitors the same way they can target users on Facebook.com. By priming sites for this Facebook ad network-style integration, it could ensure an explosive launch that could steal attention and business from Google’s AdSense. By indexing user preferences across the web, Facebook could also potentially use the button to power an expansion of its search capabilities.

Austin Haugen, a product manager for the Like button, tells us his team’s goal for the coming year is to continue experimenting with different designs of the buttons and the stories they publish to see which generate the most clicks and referral traffic. For example, earlier this month Facebook tested showing users previews of the stories a button would publish to increase transparency.

Few could have foreseen Facebook’s rapid colonization of the internet via the Like button, but now it seems hard to imagine a time before it. The Like button and Facebook’s other social plugins have forced websites to radically rethink their social strategy. If sites want access to Facebook’s enormous user base, they need to think of social as a key part of design and functionality, rather than something grafted onto a finished product.

For access to our series on how to best implement the Like button on your website or social game, including the full versions of our Like Button Style Guide, walk-through of Open Graph meta tags, and Like Button Placement Guide, visit the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s industry leading resource for marketing and advertising on Facebook.