Platform Update: Graph API Management of Pages, Send Button Referral Parameter

In the latest Platform Updates to the Facebook Developer Blog, the company announced the ability to manage Pages, change their wall settings, and install tab applications via the Graph API. This should make it easier for developers who manage multiple Pages.

Facebook added a referral attribute to the Send button for tracking which Send Button and what type of Send button story led a user to click back to a developer’s site. Developers can now use the Graph API Explorer with test accounts, and the set of payment methods displayed when users buy Facebook Credits is now optimized by country. In the previous Platform Update, Facebook announced  that developers can now name their test users, and can use the App ID where they previously used their API key.

As the Page management industry grows and developers begin to administrate numerous Pages for clients or their own apps, Facebook has sought to improve the tools for managing Pages as a team , and for single admins to efficiently manage one or many Pages without using the graphical user interface.

To further this effort, Facebook now allows Page admins to retrieve Page access tokens through the Graph API using the call:

https://graph.facebook.com/PAGE_ID
  ?fields=access_token&access_token=ACCESS_TOKEN

This token can then be used to make changes to the Page. Wall settings such as whether users are allowed to post can be pulled using the /settings connections. These settings can be changed via an HTTP POST to PAGE_ID/settings. For instance, an admin could quickly close the walls of all of their Pages in the event of a public relations crisis or their app breaking.

Developers can also “read, install and manage app tabs for a Page via the /tabs connection.” This allows them to check which tabs are currently installed and  add new ones. For example, a developer could simultaneously install a promotional app across all the local branch Pages of a single business for a coordinated marketing push. Details for managing Pages via the Graph API can be found in the Page object documentation.

Facebook launched the Send button in April to facilitate sharing of content around the web with specific friends rather one’s entire network through the Like button. In May it added Send button metrics to Domain Insights, as well as the Graph API and FQL Insights table.

Now, a referral parameter can be included in implementations of the Send button so developers can be sure which Send button is generating emails, Group posts, and Facebook messages that are leading to referral clicks. Developers can also see which of these three Send types led to the click. The following is an example of an added referral parameter that can be embedded along with a Send button:

<html><body>
<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script src="http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"></script>
<fb:send href="YOUR_SITE_URL"></fb:send>
</body></html>

Clicks to your website will generate a referrer URL containing the ref value and parameter, for example:

http://www.yoursite.com/home?fb_ref=top_left&fb_source=message

This data will help developers optimize the placement and style of their Send buttons, and choose on which web pages to include the social plugin. It will also help developers determine what Send button message type is being used most often. For instance, if they see that their content is frequently being sent to Facebook Groups, they might include messaging on their site encouraging users to share with their Groups.

A few weeks ago, Facebook launched the Graph API Explorer to allow new developers to get acquainted with the API, and experienced developers to test their apps. Now developers can log in to the console as a test account. The permits them to test installing apps, posting content, and taking other actions that generate news feed stories without worrying about clogging the news feeds of friends with tests. Facebook said it received a high volume of requests for this capability.

When developers create their test accounts, they can now name them to more easily keep track of them and to produce tests that look more authentic than tests using unnatural names. The name of a test account will in part determine what email address it is assigned.

Facebook has also changed how payment options for Facebook Credits are displayed. Now, methods will be ordered depending on which is most commonly used in a user’s country. This way, if a mobile payments are more prevalent than credit cards payments, the mobile payment option will appear higher in the list. This should increase the likelihood that users will complete Credits purchase transactions, thereby increasing the number of users with Credits balances and the amount of Credits they have. This should make it easier for apps to turn users into paying customers.

Last, Facebook is phasing out usage of the API key in app settings to remove redundancy in the developer app. Developers can now use their App ID wherever they previously used their API key. This means there’ll be one less code that developers will need to keep accessible.