Today, Facebook launched a new design and new ways for applications and websites to use the Like button, which is now integrated on 350,000 sites. Users can now Like specific pages or objects within an application, providing a new viral distribution channel for application content including virtual goods. Sites can now display Like buttons for Facebook Pages, creating quick a way for users to subscribe to a Page’s updates while not on Facebook itself. Lastly, the new Like button design called “box count” highlights how many users have Liked something so far.
Previously, users could only Like an application as a whole, with the news feed story created by the action leading to an application’s Page. This prevented sharing of specific in-app content like a mini-game, leaderboard, or virtual goods. This was especially prohibitive for less linear games, utilities, and apps with many distinct features. Now, developers can add Like buttons pointing to any IFramed page or canvas endpoint by integrating Open Graph meta tags.
Since Facebook removed application notifications in favor of allowing developers to contact users directly through email, many developers have been looking for a new viral channel for acquiring new users. “Based on feedback from the developer community,” Facebook says it has now implemented a new channel, though not a dedicated one. By Liking an in-app object, a feed story will be published linking directly to that object. This means in addition to purchasing a virtual good, a use can Like it to show it to their friends. This could have a significant impact on virtual good sales, as well as spreading awareness of virtual goods as a concept.
Open Graph-enabled third-party websites can now include Like buttons that create a connection with a Page, not just share an object. Page Likes can be more valuable because they opt a user into receiving updates about the Page in their news feed, and displaying the connection on their profile. Developers don’t need to include any description of what the Like button actually points to, meaning users may be unaware that their click is in fact subscribing and connecting them. The change will help developers convert one-time visitors into members of their Page’s community.
Facebook’s new box count style of Like button displays a large speech box encapsulating a Like count stemming from a rectangle showing the Facebook favicon and the word “Like”. This version is bigger than many Like buttons, with larger height than width. By putting the focus on the number of people who’ve already Liked a piece of content or Page, the button informs the user of its popularity. This exerts peer pressure to click, or from a different perspective, provides a mass recommendation for the content. Sites with higher traffic and Likes will benefit more from box count Like buttons than smaller sites where this style could actually dissuade users from clicking because they can see how few have clicked already.
Facebook continues to rollout new designs and features to the Like button in an effort to give users and developers flexibility. These changes will make the Like button even more ubiquitous across the web, while providing additional ways to expose content on Facebook to new users.