Facebook Improves Open Graph To Boost App Engagement

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook’s open graph technology is a powerful tool, when used intelligently. The social network has tried to steer application developers to use open graph more efficiently, drawing users to engage more. Facebook points out that apps that publish stories via open graph have a 50 percent higher click-through rate than similar stories that aren’t pushed through this technology.

Facebook Product Engineer Henry Zhang noted that the site has tweaked open graph a bit, gearing the technology toward interaction instead of simply publishing.

The network no longer approves custom actions that publish stories as people consume content. Zhang wrote that these apps must use the appropriate built-in actions or create a different sharing experience. The site is also doing away with other features that led to low-quality user experiences. Facebook wants apps to publish actions that people will not merely see, but comment on, like, and share.

One of the ways Facebook has improved open graph actions is making them more image-based. It’s well-known that people like to interact with pictures, so Facebook went more in that direction. Zhang posted a comparison of an old check-in with a new check-in, noting that the map and the more visual structure makes it more likely that someone will interact with this post:

Zhang also wrote about some of the features that are no longer a part of open graph, as they led to poor stories with little to no engagement, such as authenticated referrals and automatically posting to friends’ walls:

Apps that help people automatically share stories about content as they consume it, such as the music you are listening to, can be good experiences when apps create clear expectations for the user of what is being shared and when. When apps automatically publish stories on a person’s behalf in a way that is unexpected, such as when they browse an online store, it can surprise and confuse people.

Starting today, custom actions that automatically publish back to Facebook as a person consumes content in your app will no longer be approved. We will only allow apps that use our built-in actions to automatically publish stories as content is consumed. With built-in actions, we understand the structure of the information and can ensure a better user experience by specializing story formats that can help set user expectations. Apps that currently use a custom content consumption action must migrate to use an applicable built-in action in the next 90 days. If you cannot find an applicable built-in, we encourage you to build a different experience that helps people share meaningful stories with friends on Facebook.

Readers: Do you feel that the user experience with apps has been improved recently?