One Problem With Facebook's Social Plugins

If you don’t have many Facebook friends, your online world could start feeling increasingly lonely. As Michael Bernstein points out, visiting sites like CNN.com can feel a lot more empty if you don’t have many Facebook friends, since the few Facebook friends you have may not be visiting the site. Bernstein states, “This is a design problem with multiplicities: there are simply too many places on the web for my friends to Like and too few of my friends.”

While I haven’t personally run into the issue, since I have a ton of Facebook friends thanks to writing this blog, I can definitely understand how this would happen. Given that the average users has around 130 friends, the odds that more than one of them has visited any given site is relatively low (unless it’s a large media property). This is the first time we’ve heard of the issue, however I’m sure Facebook has their own internal stats to see how often this occurs.

If the frequency of empty social plugins was high, we’re sure Facebook would improve the feature in order to make it display popular content that other people have shared. I’m not quite sure that I think a global “Like” button is completely ineffective however. While there appears to be some confusion about the purpose of each “Like” button, we don’t think that users’ lack of friends will be the primary problem with the social plugins.

Have you run into the problem of having no content show up in Facebook social plugins on other sites around the web?

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