Every developer wants Facebook referral traffic, but not all apps have actions that fit well with auto-sharing, and others might not want to post to Facebook without their users’ express permission. So today Facebook launches a Like action for mobile and web apps. Don’t call it a “Like Button” though, as instead of immediately being one-click, the new Like Action requires a user to give publishing permission to an app first. The Like Action will also generate activity Facebook can turn into Sponsored Stories, the center of its mobile monetization plan.
Though subtle, this is actually a big step forward for privacy on Facebook in addition to being growth tool for developers. The Like Action means apps that want growth don’t have to tack auto-sharing onto some action or invent their own “love” “favorite” or “hell yeah!” button. That will give developers the flexibility to add deliberate sharing to more sensitive types of content that could have caused auto-sharing disasters.
With the amount of new users that frictionless sharing delivering to apps like Socialcam and Viddy, Facebook has basically been coercing startups and public companies alike to integrate Open Graph. Some users aren’t pleased, though. There’s been backlash to news sites and video apps that automatically broadcast your reading and viewing activity, especially when you click some sexy, gory, or sensational-titled content.
Facebook cracked down on this with a rule that certain media apps can’t auto-share until you’ve engaged with content for 10 seconds, which is reducing Open Graph spam. But still there were probably developers who wanted more virality, but felt auto-sharing was too aggressive. The new Like Action lets them give users an explicit way to share, so they always know what they’re posting.
The person who Liked will have a Facebook story about the activity shared with their friends which will send traffic back to the app. And if the content they Liked was created by a fellow Facebook user, they’ll receive a notification about getting the thumbs up. Developers can also choose their own design for the button that triggers it. Facebook highlighted mobile use cases in the announcement because that’s where it needs to appear stronger, but the Like Actions works on web apps too.
The easily integrated “Built-In Like” will also eliminate needless development work and sometimes slow Open Graph action approvals so apps can include sharing right away. Facebook Liking has also become a familiar behavior, so so launch partners Instagram and Foursquare might see an uptick in sharing by replace their proprietary Like buttons with the Like Action.
Overall the new Like Action is both developer and privacy friendly. Plus it will send content back to Facebook that the site can monetize with mobile sponsored stories that are proving to have skyhigh click through rates and be popular with advertisers.
Finally, the Like Action could open the door for apps with racy or uber-nerdy content to say “Hey, if you want to share that you’re reviewing a brothel or watching Star Trek behind-the-scenes, we won’t force you. The Like Action’s right there.”