Dominiek ter Heide

Facebook: I would Like to Post my Like to You

Pushing your site's activity to Facebook

As some developers might know, Facebook provides a vast landscape of tools for integration. Unfortunately, navigating that landscape can be quite hard as the APIs changes constantly and the documentation is often lacking.

So in today’s Facebook Integration landscape, what are the easy wins out there to push your site’s activity to Facebook?

Facebook allows any site to radically spice up their on and off-site activity. For Mediamatic, this has obvious benefits to everyone in the AnyMeta Ecosystem.

Connect Me!

With just a few lines of JavaScript, you can integrate your site with Facebook. And most of the API’s functionality can also be executed from the browser. This can make Facebook integration very easy. Without much effort, you can start publishing posts to your users’ Facebook profile. A post has several freeform fields like: name, caption, description, picture, link, etc.

The Untangle ‘Facebook Like’

One other obvious way of increasing exposure is by syndicating the liking of objects to Facebook. Throughout the web, you can find Facebook like buttons. In it’s most simplest form, these buttons allow any user - even without Facebook Connect - to like a page and after clicking the button the like will be shown on their Facebook profile. It’s important to note here however, that these simple likes at this moment cannot be retrieved through Facebook’s API. In other words: with a simple like there is no persistent connection created between the user and the liked object.

I Like! - CC-by @jonkpirateboy on Flickr

It is however possible to make the like button behave differently. If the page that hosts the like button holds enough OpenGraph meta-data, Facebook will turn that page into a topic, or more accurately an external Facebook page. When a user uses the like button on a page with ‘enough meta-data’, a link will be created between the user and that topic. These more advanced likes can be retrieved through the Facebook API. Also, a visible connection between the user and the topic will be displayed (forever?) on that user’s Facebook profile. This is key to Facebook’s interest graphing strategy.

Unfortunately, in the current state of the Facebook Platform, it’s impossible to perform any of the aforementioned likes through the Facebook API. By many users this has been reported as a bug, but more likely this has been done by design. Facebook does not want third-parties liking topics on behalf of it’s users. It’s unclear whether they will provide any solution in the near future. (Side note: it is possible to ‘like’ activity stream entries through the API, but this is far from useful)

Pushing Activity to Facebook

So what can (and should) I do to push my site’s activity to Facebook?

  • Make sure like buttons are placed on all your pages and that OpenGraph meta-data is present on those pages.
  • All activity (other than likes that happen on a page) can be pushed to Facebook by publishing a post to a user’s profile. This will require Facebook Connect (often in combination with offline publishing permissions).
  • When users visit from Facebook, make sure you provide them with an easy way to Facebook connect.

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