Facebook Launches Recommendations Bar For Suggesting Articles, Tripling Click-Throughs

Ten Months after Facebook announced the recommendations bar at f8, it’s finally getting its official release to help sites suggest content to you based on what friends are reading.

When you’re reading an article on a site that has implemented the Recommendations Bar, a small pop up will appear at the bottom, showing you recommended articles based on your friends’ activity.

Similar to the current Like button, if you like an article using the Recommendations Bar, the story is published on your timeline and appears in your friends’ news feed.

Facebook says that in early tests, sites saw 3x their normal click through rate on stories recommended by the bar rather than the Recommendations Box. Sites can integrate the feature with a few lines of code or as part of the Facebook for WordPress plug-in.

For readers, this (hopefully) means more relevant, interesting stories to read, curated by your friends’ sharing and liking. I can just picture reading on ESPN and being recommended a piece about the Giants winning on a walk off home run (lol, kidding–the Giants never score runs!) because my friends are sharing it. However, as with every social feature, annoying situations will arise. Picture reading an article on Yahoo and you get recommended a dating happiness article because your ex and three others read it. Ouch.

The best thing for users is that it isn’t a pesky social reader–this doesn’t share an article just because you read it. You have to like it in the Bar for it to be shared, so your guilty reading pleasures are safe.

For Facebook, it deepens sites’ reliance on their plug-ins and expands users’ reliance on Facebook even when they aren’t on the site. It could signal the start of Facebook expanding its content sharing and aggregating. Imagine if a recommendations bar popped up after you finished reading an Economist piece, but you were so exhausted by how much smarter the Economist writers are than you that you didn’t want to read it right there; Facebook could let you bookmark it and come back to it, either on Facebook or on the Economist site.

Content producers are huge winners here. This is a gold mine for them. Social sharing drives page views and this will undoubtedly increase the quality of Facebook shares, especially over the old Recommendations Box.