Facebook for Websites

With over half the people on the Internet using Facebook at least once per month, Facebook has become an extremely important part of Internet life. And they’re using that power to change the web as we know it: they’re driving the “social web”. Being on the cutting edge of that transition can put you in prime position to improve your business through referrals — the best source of customers.

Over the last several months, Facebook has often been in the news for changes it made in its privacy policy and the way it handles users’ data. What hasn’t made as much news, but is much more important from a marketing perspective, is the changes it made to its API. Everybody knows that the best source of business is referrals. So far, the Internet has allowed people to rate things they care about through services like Yelp! and write about things they care about through blogs and open-source initiatives like wikipedia, but Facebook is bringing the real value of recommendations to the web through the social context of friendship and their open graph API.

The Social Web

Everything I said in my introduction to social networking remains true. However, in these last six months, as is so often the case with life on the Internet, the world has advanced. To be fair, Facebook has been trying to do this for almost 2 years, but with their introduction of the opengraph API in April things really took off and the next generation of the web is here.

Changes in the nature of the web don’t happen in a day — we didn’t flip a switch and move from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, but move we did. Slowly, over the last several years, often unnoticeably, the web moved from static content to dynamic content. You may not have even noticed it, but somewhere along the way, when you started typing text into google it started making auto-complete suggestions. When you go to ESPN.com it doesn’t just show you the scores, it updates them as you sit there and watch the page. These may seem like minor things, but they’ve fundamentally made the web much more engaging. That was web 2.0.

The social web takes it one step farther. Not only is it dynamic, but it is interactive and personalized. It includes content and recommendations that are unique to you and, more importantly, come from your friends. This is all possible because of the power of Facebook. With over 500 million monthly active users around the world, approximately half the people on the Internet are on Facebook, and that number is growing every day. When a web site is integrated with the social web, then it can reflect an active, personal experience back to the user. This can be as simple as the “like” button, which can literally be added to your website with a single line of html and results in something like this:

an example of the Facebook like-button in action

Since it really is as simple as a single line of HTML, there’s really no reason not to integrate your site with Facebook. It takes almost no effort, and you get the immediate benefit of the social network (speaking of which, if you haven’t already, you should click on the like button above this article!). Of course, that’s just the beginning. If you have the time and the expertise, there’s no limit to what you can do to make your site more engaging and social for your users. Facebook provides a number of easy “social plugins” that let you extend functionality beyond the like button. For example, on CNN, if you’ve authorized Facebook then you can see directly what articles are liked by your friends:

Facebook Social Plugin on CNN.com

And if you want to get really fancy, you can go the route of Pandora. They’ve fully integrated with Facebook, so you can click on “friends” and see all the radio stations created by your Facebook friends who are also Pandora users:

Image of Facebook integration with Pandora

The more integrated your site is with the social web, the more opportunity there is for your customers, and potential customers, to do your marketing for you. As always, I hope you found this article useful, and if you have any questions, feel free to email me or put them in the comments section, below!



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