The Power of Facebook plugins, and other social sharing tools

1 Comment 10 February 2011

image courtesy of afagen

I had a fabulous time presenting a webinar yesterday for Nonprofit Webinars about “The Power of Like and other social sharing tools.” I put together the presentation to answer these four questions: which Facebook tools (plugins) should I use on my website, why should I add share buttons to my website or blog, what is the ROI of Facebook Like and social sharing, and how does Facebook decide where to place a shared item within someone’s news feed?

The Facebook Like Button

The Like button is potentially one of the most powerful sharing tools around. If you place a Like button on your website, or on any content within the website, you have essentially created both a private messaging and a tracking system for site visitors that choose to Like your content. What many people do not know is that placing a Like button on the website will create a “hidden” administrative Facebook Page once one visitor Likes your content. Only the owner of the Like button can view this hidden Facebook Page. However, just as with any Facebook Page, a Page admin can send an update to the newsfeed of all of the people who “Like” the page. Think about the possibilities of integrating Like with a campaign: update page followers about the status of the campaign, urge them to act, ask them to share information about the campaign at critical points.

In addition, with the help of a website developer, organizations can track activities of people who have Liked specific content on your site. It is possible to place a tracking code on all visitors that have Liked a page, and track who returns to the site as a result of someone seeing the Like (who clicked on the Like or Facebook Share in the newsfeed and returned), what actions they then took on the site, and if they took the actions you wanted them to. At JustGiving, a UK online donation platform, they found that every Like on their site (which was shared to Facebook) resulted in six returning unique visitors. Of the returning unique visitors, 6% donated to a cause.

Desert Island Facebook Social Plugins

In the presentation, I have a “desert island plugins” slide. If I had to recommend only three to use, I’d advocate for the Facebook Like button, Facebook Login, and either the Activity or Recommends feeds. Implementing Facebook Login enables your organization to capture a lot of data about Facebook users who use your site: gender, age, town, their interests, and much more. (Of course, this is only for those who allow Facebook to access this information, and a percentage of site visitors will not feel comfortable using Facebook Login for just this reason.) But here’s the best part about Login: every time a visitor returns to your site who has already used Facebook Login, you will have access to his/her updated Facebook interests and information.

The Recommend and Activity feed plugins are a great visua; way to show “social proof” of the popularity and usefulness of your website to site visitors. Visitors who are logged into Facebook will see a live feed that shows what site content their friends Like and are sharing with others. If a site visitor is not logged in, then the most popular Likes and Shares on the website will show in the feed.

Facebook News Feed Optimization

The presentation also covers the News Feed Optimization (NFO), also called Edgerank. Edgerank is Facebook’s internal search engine optimization(SEO) system. From what understand (and I’m open to more insights, please), both search within Facebook and how prominently a Liked or Shared item appears in a user’s news feed relates to three factors: how often a user who Likes the content interacts with your site on Facebook, how many times that content is commented upon/shared/interacted with on Facebook, and the recency of the content Liked or Shared. The takeaways: encourage visitors to Like content with a comment, and to return and Like other content so that it will appear in the Top News of that user’s Facebook news feed.

Social Sharing Tools

The presentation also shows the AddThis social sharing widget and analytics (as an example), social toolbars, and Disqus. If  you use other social plugins that have great analytics, or you want to share the ROI of using a social sharing tool, please share your expertise in the blog comments.

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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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