No, this is not a self-help post (in the strictest sense). I’m referring to Facebook’s Like function, and how to make the most of it. While in the days of yore Facebook users could Like only the wall posts of their peers, now a complementary button can be utilized more extensively—and, importantly, outside the boundaries of Facebook.
The Like Button Breakdown
We’ve all witnessed the growing popularity of the clickable "Like" link beneath individual posts—if you don’t want to bother articulating a full-blown comment, it’s a pithy way to express general approval of another user’s contribution to the world of social media.
In April of this year, however, Facebook developers decided to up the Liking game. Their strategy was two-fold:
1) To replace becoming a Fan of a Page with Liking it.
2) To create social plugins for those wishing to take their quest for approval beyond Facebook.
The consequences of the first are pretty obvious—though you may not realize it, opting to Like a band, movie, or business now ties you directly to that entity’s page.
The second, however, requires a little clarification. For those ambitious designers looking to make their web site more susceptible to outside opinion, there are several new features to add to your site (a Recommendations widget for similar pages Liked, an Activity Feed, etc). The simplest of these is, of course, the Like Button (see the above screenshot). Here’s how THAT works:
1) A Facebook user visits your site and clicks on the button.
2) A link to your page gets added to their activity stream.
3) Friends see the link, click on it and are led directly to your page.
4) When that second person arrives, the Like Button is personalized for them, showing which of their friends have already clicked it.
To get a button on your site, all you have to do is enter your selected webpage’s URL and a few appearance specs (faces, width, etc) into Facebook’s button configurator. The tool will then spit out an html source code for your personalized Like Button. As an added perk, designers can control some of what’s shown on a person’s wall when they click a Like Button through the Open Graph protocol—this gets a little complicated, but Facebook provides a comprehensive how-to here.
Button to Box
In addition to the Like Button, creators of a site can add a Like Box to their page—this more extensive social plugin enables creators to attract and gain Likes from their web site by revealing to users how many and which of their friends Like their site, and what has been recently posted. See the below graphic to get a better idea of how the box would appear onscreen.
Adding a Like Box is only slightly more involved than adding a Like Button—you will need your Facebook Page ID Number (found under the “Edit Page” section of your Facebook page) to generate a source code.
What About Blogs and Email?
No worries-- it’s relatively simple to include Like Buttons on blog platforms manually or via an independent plug-in. Automattic, the developer behind Wordpress.com, has added a Like Button catering specifically to bloggers Liking other bloggers—Liked posts registered are immediately sent to a “Posts I Like” dashboard section, from which “likers” can share the post with others.
If you're interested in making Like buttons part of your email campaigns, MailChimp (undoubtedly the first of many) has released a new version of its application complete with a Like Button merge tag. The idea is essentially the same as those previously outlined—if you Like something in a newsletter or evite, that action is then posted to your Facebook profile. Check out this Mashable article and the accompanying film for more details.
How to Tell if it’s Working
So how can you tell if your Like Buttons and Boxes are working for you? Facebook Insights lets you monitor who’s Liking exactly what, which part, and when on your pages, while email services like MailChimp provide their own tracking stats sections. Keep in mind, access to this info will allow you to more accurately target your ads on Facebook—so pay attention!
Lingering questions? The following articles and posts provide some helpful info on the Like social plugins and how to incorporate them into your social media campaigns:
WebMonkey's How-to Add a Like Button to A Website
Mashable's How-to Add a Like Button to a Wordpress Page
Blogger Sentral's How-to Add a Box to a Blogger Page
The Open Graph Protocol
PC World Blogger Dan Tynan's Take on the Like Button