Sharing Content with the New Facebook Like Button

by Mark Spangler 28 Feb 2011 Blog Post

There have been discussions among the Facebook Developer ecosystem the past few weeks regarding the possible deprecation of the Facebook Share button to make the “Like” action the primary share point across the web. With the recent announcement that FBML will no longer be supported, indeed, the FBML Share action is deprecated. However, developers still have access to register a relevant action in their applications using the “stream.share” method in the JS SDK available. Unofficial documentation on this feature is available here and is not documented by Facebook. In fact, when searching for official documentation on “Facebook Share”, the search redirects visitors to the Like button documentation.

Like Button Documentation | Stuzo

The updates released on February 27th, showcase a fundamental series of changes unveiled to the Like button, which marketers and brands should certainly be aware of and begin investigating the best integration points for these features. With these recent changes, there is obviously heavy overlap on the features provided by the Facebook Like and Share buttons.

While the psychology behind how and why users click these particular actions is creating debate over what option to use, signs indicate that because of the investment made and its ease of use, the “Like” button is on its way to be the prominent feature and recommended implementation route by Facebook. Today, users go through a mental decision tree when they see a piece of content they want to let their networks know they find valuable. Users have the option to Tweet, Facebook Share, Facebook Like, Email, StumbleUpon, etc. This decision usually happens so quickly and so often for active users, that most have a formed opinion on what distribution method to choose depending on the category or context of the content. Facebook is continuously working on implementing options for publishers and marketers of content, to attempt to make this decision easier and more ubiquitous.

Below is some additional information on the recent changes to the Like button:

September 9, 2010: Facebook unveils three new updates to the Like button. (1) Users can now like content from Facebook applications Canvas URLs. (2) The Like button can link back to particular Facebook pages. (3) A prominent counter (“box count”) can be displayed to showcase the sum of Likes a piece of content receives.

February 10, 2011: Facebook announces deprecation of FBML in favor of iframes. FBML documentation of the Share button is removed. Notably, developers now have the ability to implement the Like button directly on the landing page of tabs. This feature was always available in iframe development, but now can be loaded directly on the landing of a Facebook Page tab.

February 27, 2011: Facebook rolls out the latest version of the Like button. Previously, when user’s Liked an item, a small piece of the story would go back into a user’s wall under “Recent Activity.” This often was buried on the user’s page with a simple link back to the content. With the latest changes, now when a user clicks Like a full story is prominently published on their wall with a thumbnail image, story title, and body text. Also available is the option to “comment” after taking a Like action.

Visiting a Piece of Content on the Web:

Like Web Content | Stuzo

Like provides the option to add a comment:

Like Comment Option | Stuzo

Seamless Sharing of the Like back into Facebook:

Like on Facebook | Stuzo

With the option of a comment:

Like with Comment | Stuzo

Facebook has noted that this new feature is being tested broadly across the platform and the web. Marketers should be aware these features could continue to change or revert as Facebook continues to focus their efforts on the Like button and the best way to share content across the web and social graph.

In the short-term, new methods to share content will continue to emerge and be refined giving users more decisions to make. However, in the long-term view of the ecosystem, methods to share relevant content will need to become simple and clear to users across the web. Facebook, although ever changing and evolving, is aware of this and their recent focus on the Like button, clearly shows they are investing resources and efforts into making sharing more ubiquitous across the web.