Platform Update: Subscribe to Comments Box Threads, Like Story Feedback Insights, Send Button Metrics

The latest Platform Update to the Facebook Developers Blog on Friday announced the new ability to subscribe to threads in the Comments Box social plugin, the addition of Like Story feedback to the Insights tool, and details on API access to metrics on Send button activity.

Facebook also released several developer tutorials this week, including “How-To: Handle Expired Access Tokens“, and “How-To: Use The Graph API to Upload Photos to a User’s Profile“, and is seeking feedback from developers on the tutorial template.

The company released the updated version of the Comments Box social plugin for third-party websites in March, but has now added “Subscribe” buttons to each comment thread. In addition to the original author of a thread, those who click the button will receive Facebook notifications of new comments in that thread so they don’t miss something interesting. Users can also click to unsubscribe if a thread gets off topic later.

Facebook tested an unsubscribe button for news feed threads in August 2010, but decided not to roll it out. Now the two systems contrast, with a reply to a news feed story subscribing one to notifications about future comments, while users have to actively subscribe in the Comments Box and have the option to reply without being subscribed.

The new feature will enhance the utility of the plugin, especially for more technical sites such as the Facebook Developers Blog, where comments can carry crucial information. Though there aren’t options to subscribe via email or RSS, this update helps to close the functionality gap between Facebook’s comments plugin and popular third-party plugins such as Disqus and IntenseDebate.

The Facebook Insights tool for developers now includes analytics regarding feedback to stories published to the news feed when users click Like buttons on third-party websites. The data includes:

  • Like Story Impressions
  • Like Story Likes
  • Like Story Like Rate
  • Like Story Comments
  • Like Story Comment Rate

When combined with existing metrics on Like Story click through rate, this data can help developers determine if the open graph meta tags they’re added to their website are generating compelling Like stories. They can then change things such as the image, headline, and descriptive copy that are included in the story and test to see if performance improves. For instance, a high Like rate compared to the comment rate might indicate that the posts are enjoyable and easy to consume, but might not include strong enough calls to action or questions.

Facebook launched the Send button on April 25th, and by March 7th over 25,000 sites had integrated it. Now developers can access metrics about the performance of their Send buttons via the Graph API and Insights FQL table. Aggregated by domain, developers can see Send button views and clicks, and views and clicks of inbox Messages sent through the Send button by day or over the domain’s lifetime. This data can help developers determine the optimal placement of their Send buttons and the most compelling content for the button to deliver.