Using Facebook’s Like Button for Marketing

by Justin Kistner on Jun 02, 2010

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If you’re a marketer, Facebook’s Like Button represents a big opportunity. Adding the Like Button to your website(s) can help you earn media exposure, drive traffic, and earn consumer validation for your brand.

When a user clicks on the Like Button, a few things happen beyond affinity being established: your page is added to their Interests section of their Facebook profile, the page is shared out to the news feeds of the user’s friends, and you gain the ability to send updates to the user via their news feed.

As it was introduced at the f8 Conference just over a month ago, there are few resources that have popped up to explain how to technically implement the Like Button (listed later in this post), but there are few strategic resources. After some investigation, I’ve complied some best practices for using the Like Button in marketing.

Tagging your page

First, you have to add the Like Button to your website. There are two components to the Like Button: the code snippet for the button itself and the meta data that supports the button.

Using the XFBML version, users can add comments to likes

Code for the Like Button comes in two flavors: an iframe or XFBML (that still uses an iframe). The advantage to using the iframe version is that it’s easier to implement. But, the XFBML version has a very powerful advantage–users can add comments in addition to clicking Like (seen in the image at right), which significantly improves the Like’s position in the news feed (more on that in the news feed optimization section of this post).

Here’s an example of the code for the Like Button:

Like Buttons require some meta data to be added to the page. Required fields include:

  • Site name – Yep, this should be the name of the website on which the Like Button resides
  • Title – This should be the title of the object the user is liking. The title appears on the user’s profile page under Interests as well as in the stream post to the news feeds of the user’s friends, so write titles that are descriptive and compelling.
  • Description – Similar to the Title, this should be the description of the object the user is liking. The description also appears in the stream post to the news feeds of the user’s friends, so write descriptions that are descriptive and compelling.
  • URL – This should be the URL of the web page on which the Like Button resides.
  • Image – This is the URL to the image that will be published in the stream post to the news feeds of the user’s friends. The image must be at least 50px by 50px and have a maximum aspect ratio of 3:1.
  • Type – This is the type of object, such as “product” or “song”. There are 40 different types of objects. The type you choose determines where your object is categorized on the user’s profile. It also impacts advanced searches. So choose the object type that most correctly categorizes your object.
  • Admins/App ID – These tags are how you claim ownership of an object. Admins is for the iframe implementation and App ID is for the XFBML version of the Like Button. See the links to self-implementation below for more info on these properties.

Like Buttons also have the following optional meta data:

  • Location – If your object is a business, organization, place, etc; then adding location meta data can enhance your object.
  • Contact – If your object has a location, chances are there is related contact information, which can be added through this meta data property.

Here’s an example of what the meta data code looks like:

For popular CMSs, such as WordPress and TypePad, there are several plugins to choose from. If you’re planning to implement the Like Button yourself, here are a few guides:

And a video:

Canonical vs. Decentralized Likes

One object type is unlike the others: websites. Every object has its own fan page. Users don’t see the fan pages in Facebook, rather your web page is the fan page they see.

As the admin, however, you’ll have access to a fan page that you can use to send updates to the newsfeeds of your fans. The pages show up in your Facebook Insights dashboard as separate pages that you manage (see image below). So, if you have a site with 100 movie reviews and each review is categorized as “movie” object types, you’ll have 100 fan pages to manage.

The “websites” object is different. It allows you to tag the home page of your site as either “website” or “blog”, then you can tag all other pages as “article”. Then, instead of having a separate fan page for each object, you have only one fan page. Having a single fan page makes it easier to send updates to all of your fans in a single news feed post.

Drawbacks to this approach are that it decreases the amount of objects that can be listed in a user’s profile. It also means that if a user likes 1 article, then they like the entire website, which decreases the amount of times they could be publishing likes to their user wall.

If you use the “websites” property, then make sure you use the same URL, title, and description for each page.

News Feed Optimization

Just because you can now send updates to the fans of your object doesn’t mean they’ll see it. At f8, Facebook announced their news feed optimization algorithm called EdgeRank, and it purportedly prevents users from seeing 99.8% of all updates. You can increase the chance that a user will see your update by working the EdgeRank algorithm, which is:

Not sure what that means or how to leverage it if you do? Welcome to the club. Few people are trying to reverse engineer the algorithm and to develop techniques to exploit it, so there is very little information available. This blogger is keeping his cards close to his vest in these early days, but you can always contact these guys.

Privacy

Users can choose a privacy setting not to display their likes on their profile. So, if you see a user likes one of your objects, but you don’t see it listed on their profile, it doesn’t necessarily mean you implemented the button wrong. He/She could have simply set their likes to private.

After a user likes an object, the owner of that object can now send the user updates via their news feed. Few Facebook users understand that they are granting that publishing permission when clicking like. Use good judgment when sending out updates to fans of an object, or they will consider you spam, which means they could unlike your object and potentially bad mouth you to their friends.

As a best practice to avoid spammy news feed updates, Facebook recommends you use the voice of the object. So, if users are liking an actor in a TV show, that actor should publish stories about themselves, not general information on the show, or the TV network. In other words, don’t send marketing offers to a user that liked your blog post, rather send them updates about the information in that post.

Post Author

Justin Kistner is author of the 2013 Social Rich Media Benchmark Report and VP of Strategy at ShopIgniter, recently acquired by Mixpo. Justin has been a well-renowned leader in social marketing strategy for over ten years with leadership roles at...