Facebook Launches Like Button for the Web: Why It Might Not Be For Your Site

This morning at the F8 conference, Facebook announced the launch of a distributed or deportalized “Like” functionality. Techcrunch explains how it works:

The Like button works exactly like it does on Facebook (and other sites like FriendFeed): it allows users to show their approval of any piece of content on these sites with one click. You can also include a little note saying why you like the item. (…) These likes are then transported back to Facebook and integrated into users’ profiles. Notably, if you like a movie on IMDb, it will be pushed into your favorite movies area on your Facebook profile.

I’ve tried it on IMDB, the movie database site, where I “liked” the Peter Sellers’ movie The Party. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you will see on the right-hand side of the page the fact that I “like” the movie and my Facebook avatar. You can click on the Like button to signal you like the movie.

Facebook Like IMDB

The action is then broadcast to the Facebook newsfeed, where your friends can click back and see the information on the IMDB site. Please note that you can’t “like” or “comment” on that activity inside Facebook, only on IMDB.

Activity Stream Facebook Like

The new “Like” button is part of a new suite of social functions available for third party Websites. That suite called Open Graph includes the Facebook login (formerly Facebook connect), social plugins and a toolbar.

What it means: Wow. What a sexy concept. It’s easy to implement, it’s easy for consumers to use and it promotes your site within Facebook. Sounds like it’s a no-brainer. Everyone should implement it, no?

Let’s think about it for a second before moving too fast.

The future of the Web will be all about “structured data” and “social”. It will be about analyzing human interactions and surfacing relevant content in a sea of information/noise. If you want to build value in the future, you need to make sure you’re able to extract the social interaction data and analyze trends. That’s what Facebook is doing. They’ve managed to build a great identity system and are now building a a graph of people’s interest using external content and traffic. Facebook is building the ultimate social utility.

Will you be able to capture trends and surface relevant content if you “outsource” some of your basic social functions to Facebook? I’m not sure. You need to be able to tie social actions to your core structured data. I still believe it’s critical to use the Facebook identity system (log-in and social graph) but be careful of other social plugins. You might be giving away the future of your business to the social network giant. And by the way, you can probably create your own “Like” button that broadcasts to Facebook using the Facebook login…

In the local space, Yelp has just implemented the whole social kit from Facebook but note how they’re using the “like” button: “A use-case that we’re all excited about: perhaps you see a 3-star business and you’re unsure of whether you want to try it. But you see that several of your friends have “liked” it so you give it a shot and it’s really a 4-star business in your book. So now you can write a review telling people how great it is! “. They’re using the Facebook Like button as a backup system to their own rating system. They’re not surrendering their main social functions to Facebook. They understand their core business and are leveraging Facebook’s identity system and social graph. That’s smart. Make sure you’re as smart as Yelp when you start implementing these new tools.

Update: ReadWriteWeb has some concerns has well and write “At first blush, it’s hard from a user’s perspective to find anything to criticize Facebook for in today’s announcements. Those criticisms will no doubt start to form once people wrap their heads around all the particulars. On principal, though, there’s going to be so much more Facebook around the internet that it feels like a real cause for concern. Centralization is a dangerous thing and Facebook is a young company that’s proven willing to break its contract with users in the past”

10 thoughts on “Facebook Launches Like Button for the Web: Why It Might Not Be For Your Site

  1. Most people think it’s game over for “distributed likes”, but IMHO there’s room for another player. If OpenID was a hot startup with Sequoia money they could be a credible contender.

  2. Very interesting point. The risk to centralize content-relevant data is very high. This is indeed what Facebook is trying to do. And by the way they are very clever in doing it. They ask users to do the job for them by simply adding a social/emotional annotation to websites with the “I like” button. They’re trying to add social meaning to their data, something that everyone thinks will be the mainly Web 3.0 characteristic. And if we don’t want them to be the first ones to build a semantic search engine we should be careful of implementing such a button…

  3. Unlike Seb and Greg Sterling, I do not think that YPG and other players give their soul and their core business to Facebook, using Open Graph…they just do what they need to do, that is support their advertisers to get the maximum amount of exposure, both on their own online properties and outside…What Google and Facebook will never be able to replicate is the way to monetize this exposure via a direct face to face salesforce…SME’s do not have and will never have the time nor the knowledge to fully understand how to leverage and optimize their online presence..who is best positionned to offer these SMEs POP material inviting customers to check-in on Foursquare when visiting them, to post reviews on yp.ca, to set up a page on the Google Local Business Center, to select their Facebook page as a favorite etc…than the publisher’s sales force…

  4. Facebook knows how to wrap-up things in a way Google never knew (they had the goldmine of blogger+profile+gmail+google.com for ages with no convergences to take advantage of cross-promotion through “centralization” to give their property synergies.

    Now that they have the tech knowledge and the elegance of Friendfeed, they took advantage of both!

    I don’t understand why people talk only from the developer or marketers point of views. What about the users? With the new OpenGraph, the users are the property of Facebook across the web. There is no opt-in option, only a weak a deeply burned opt-out possibility (in the privacy settings: http://www.bit.ly/facebookoptout) which is not even clear about how it will behave.

    If you really want change, it should go through action, just like with Beacon in 2007, through users voices, just like citizen voice in any political ground action.

    you could join this page and voice yourselves..
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/DONT-LET-FACEB00K-OWN-YOU-YOUR-IDENTITY-ONLINE-DOLFOY/117538128271983?v=info#

    Thanks.

    PS: I’m definitely not a tech-freak and usually embrace new innovative technology, but this time, something feels just wrong, there is something with the fact that your identity is ported to other webistes, your demographics etc… with possible tweaks which are too complicated for the average users. To manage that it’S either a full-time job, or you just give away yourself to Facebook.

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