With last week's introduction of the new Facebook "Send" button, the number of options available for website designers who want to integrate Facebook with their blog, website or webapp has risen even higher. There are more ways to integrate Facebook with Wordpress and other popular blogging platforms than ever before, and sometimes the options can become a bit overwhelming.
That's why we decided to do a rundown on the various Facebook Social Plugins that are available for users to implement Facebook sharing on their blog or website. Here's the rundown:
Facebook Like Button
Introduced just a year ago, the Facebook Like Button has already become a ubiquitous part of every major website in the world; it's so popular it's showing up on t-shirts. The Facebook Like Button allows users to share content on your blog or website with their Facebook friends; when users click the button, an entry pops up in the user's friends' News Feeds and links back to your website.
The Facebook Like Button is a must-have for blogs and websites; of all the various Facebook social plugins, it's by far the widest used, most popular and most effective way of increasing exposure to your blog or website. There are a few ways to implement the Facebook Like Button on your website:
If you run a Wordpress blog, there are several Wordpress / Facebook Plugins available to integrate Facebook with Wordpress. Check Wordpress' plugin repository for a full list, but I highly recommend Simple Facebook Connect, which comes with a whole slew of features, or the aptly-named Facebook Like Button plugin.
If you're using a different blogging platform, search around and bit and you're sure to find a ready-to-go plugin to simplify the process. Google is your friend!
- Use a Facebook Like Button Plugin.
- Implement the Facebook Like Button Manually.
Facebook Send Button
The newcomer on the block, the Facebook Send Button lets your users send your web content to their friends without making it a part of the public News Feed. Users can use the Facebook Send Button to send content to their riends, to the wall of any group they're a member of, or as an email to any address. It's a more private version of the Facebook Like Button and is part of Facebook's ongoing attempts to take over email as the primary mode of communication on the internet.
Just like the Facebook Like Button, there are a few ways to integrate the Facebook Send Button on your website. Since it's relatively new, it hasn't popped up in many blogging plugins yet, but you can bet that's right around the corner. Facebook features a very simple Facebook Send Button generator to generate a standalone Facebook Send Button, or if you'd like to integrate it with your current Like Button, you can do that with a very simple code change.
The Facebook Comments feature lets you enable Facebook commenting on your website via Facebook. It's implemented with an iFrame and can be easily integrated into websites that don't already have commenting features. For sites and blogs that already have commenting enabled, there are numerous plugins available to integrate your current comment system with the Facebook comments plugin. It comes with a "Post to Facebook" checkbox which, if left checked, will share the comment on the user's Friends' News Feeds, allowing them to reply, like and otherwise interact with the comment. Facebook Comments are an excellent way to get Facebook users interacting with your website or blog.
Facebook Activity Feed
The Facebook Activity Feed is a great way to show users what their friends are doing on your website. It's an iFrame that sits on your blog or website and shows users what actions their friends have recently taken on your website, such as commenting on or liking things. Although it initially drew the ire of privacy advocates, it's since become a popular feature on many major websites. The Facebook Activity Feed is best used for high-volume sites; since it pulls in the activities of friends, it won't show action for users whose friends haven't taken any action on the site, and will instead display recommendations.
The Facebook Recommendations widget shows users personalized suggestions for pages and content on your site that they might enjoy. In order to generate the recommendations, the Facebook Recommendations plugin considers all social interactions with your site; for logged-in users, it will give preference to pages and content that their friends have interacted with.
Facebook Like Box
If you have a Facebook Page (and really, you should), the Facebook Like Box will allow users to like your Facebook page and will display your Facebook page's stream directly in the widget. This one doesn't get as much use as some others but is still a very valuable plugin, enabling web designers to drive traffic toward their Facebook page which can, conversely, drive traffic back toward their web sites.
Facebook Login Button
A basic component of the Facebook Connect platform, the Facebook Login button allows users to login to your site using their Facebook credentials and optionally shows the profile pictures of the user's friends who have signed up / logged in to your site with Facebook. This is a great way to build your website's userbase, since users are more likely to login with Facebook than to create a new account on your site.
Another component of Facebook Connect, Facebook Registration allows users to sign up for your website or blog with their Facebook account. It's a simple iFrame that you can put on your page which, when logged into Facebook, will pre-fill a registration form with a the user's data. This feature might not be appropriate for every website and blog, but it can definitely help ease the registration process for websites with a high volume of users.
The Facepile plugin shows the Facebook profile pictures of users who have liked your content or have signed up for your website. As with the other Facebook social plugins, it's an iFrame that you can easily drop into your webpage or your blog's template.
Facebook Live Stream
The Facebook Live Stream plugin is best for real-time events, like websites for events, sports, and so on. It lets users visiting your website or blog share activity and comments in real-time, essentially becoming a "stream" of content that runs down the plugin. Although not for everyone, the Facebook Live Stream can be very cool for high-volume sites that have a lot of real-time commenting and other Facebook interaction.