Facebook users are seeing a new “View Shares” link beneath news feed stories by friends, Pages, and those they subscribe to. When clicked, it opens a popover window displaying who has reposted that story and any additional context they added. Users will only see shares visible to them, meaning any post published publicly or by one of their friends.
View Shares constitutes the third news feed story feedback metric visible to users, joining Likes and comments. It indicates what news feed stories are most popular and that users might therefore want to read, click through, or repost themselves. The link’s presence could help alert users to the availability of the Share option and increase its usage. It will help Page admins who previously had no way of telling how frequently their updates were reposted other than searching for public updates. View Shares might also push content publishers to more directly encourage their readers to share their posts.
The feature now appears on posts by both users and Pages. In the popover revealed by the View Shares link, reposts where users added an optional description display that text, while those without additional context read “Name shared a page: [Page name]”. The feature respects privacy, as only users who could already view a repost will see it in the View Shares pop over.
Users have long had the “Share” option to repost the news feed stories they see, but data about the quantity of reposts was never displayed on the original story. Likes and comments both benefit from having the volumes of these feedback types displayed on posts. Now the Share link has the same expanded presence, which may serve to remind users about the option.
Somewhat oddly, the volume of Shares of a Page’s posts is not included in a Page’s Insights. Admins can now find this data by viewing their Page’s own posts, and the data will also probably be added to Insights in the near future.
While reposts previously helped publishers gain a burst of additional impressions, they didn’t provide a social recommendation for the original story to its viewers the way Likes and comments do. Those feedback types can help improve a post or publisher’s EdgeRank, or prominence in the news feed, but they usually don’t expose the post to a user’s own network.
The View Shares feature means Shares will give posts both immediate exposure to a user’s friends and a permanent recommendation. Since there are more benefits to Shares for publishers, they may want to increase the frequency with which they ask users to Share their posts.
Page admins might not be entirely happy about the change, though, as now when a user Shares one of their posts, it doesn’t include a “via [Page name] link back to the Page that originally posted the story. This means Shares no longer offer Pages an opportunity to gain new fans. Update 9/23/2011: Facebook has returned the “via [Page name]” to Shared posts. This means Page’s can gain new fans from having their posts Shared.