Social Plugins: Eight Reasons to Like Facebook

Considering its recent privacy gaffe, we can all think of reasons not to like Facebook. In this post, I want to list eight reasons you should. They all have to do with the new Social Plugins, which enable site owners to open up their content for sharing on Facebook. 

There are eight such plugins, the first five of which can be installed by pretty much anyone. 

Facebook Like Button

 
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T
he Like button enables users to make connections to your pages and share content back to their friends on Facebook with one click. The beauty is that it doesn't take users away from you site. They remain right there. 

The button is easy to install via a simple iframe that you drop into your site. WordPress site owners can use a sidebar widget for this purpose. Typepad provides this as a widget as well, so no knowledge of HTML is needed. You'll note I've incorporated it into the sidebar here. 

Activity Feed

 
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The Activity Feed displays stories both when users like content on your site and when users share content from your site back to Facebook. If a user is logged into Facebook, the plugin will be personalized to highlight content from their friends. If the user is logged out, the activity feed will show recommendations from your site, and give the user the option to log in to Facebook

The plugin is available via a simple iframe you can drop into your page.

Recommendations

 
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The Recommendations plugin shows personalized recommendations to your users. Since the content is hosted by Facebook, the plugin can display personalized recommendations whether or not the user has logged into your site. To generate the recommendations, the plugin considers all the social interactions with URLs from your site. For a logged in Facebook user, the plugin will give preference to and highlight objects her friends have interacted with.

You specify a site for which to show recommendations for. The domain is matched exactly, so a plugin with site=facebook.com would not include URLs from developers.facebook.com. You cannot currently aggregate across multiple domains.

The plugin is also available via an iframe you can drop into your page.

The Like Box

 
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The Like Box is a social plugin that enables Facebook Page owners to attract and gain Likes from their own website. The Like Box enables users to:

  • See how many users already like this page, and which of their friends like it too
  • Read recent posts from the page
  • Like the page with one click, without needing to visit the page

The Like Box can be added via the use of an iframe as well. 

Live Stream

The Live Stream plugin lets users visiting your site or application share activity and comments in real time. The Live Stream Box works best when you are running a real-time event, like live streaming video for concerts, speeches, or webcasts, live Web chats, webinars, massively multiplayer games. Yep, you can use an iframe here as well. 

The following plugins are only available using XFBML. 

Login with Faces

The Login with Faces plugin shows profile pictures of the user's friends who have already signed up for your site in addition to a login button.

You can specify the maximum number of rows of faces to display. The plugin dynamically sizes its height; for example, if you specify a maximum of four rows of faces, and there are only enough friends to fill two rows, the height of the plugin will be only what is needed for two rows of faces.

Friendpile

The Friendpile plugin (formerly known as "Facepile") shows profile pictures of the user's friends who have already signed up for your site.

You can specify the maximum number of rows of faces to display. The plugin dynamically sizes its height; for example, if you specify a maximum of four rows of faces, and there are only enough friends to fill two rows, the height of the plugin will be only what is needed for two rows of faces. The plugin doesn't render if the user is logged out of Facebook or doesn't have friends who have signed up for your site using Facebook.

Comments

The Comments Box easily enables your users to comment on your site's content — whether it's for a web page, article, photo, or other piece of content. Then the user can share the comment on Facebook on their Wall and in their friends' streams.

With half-a-billion people on the planet using Facebook, it would seem to me any integration that enables users to share your content with their network is a good thing, wouldn't you agree?

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