Facebook's social what? Let's clear up the confusion straight away. In simplest terms, a Facebook Social Plugin is basically a widget you can add to your website to extend the benefits of your Facebook marketing efforts beyond Facebook. It's a way to get more marketing mojo out of Facebook on your own website, and with a social network that has amassed over 800 million active users and is expected to include over 90% of US social network users in 2012, what business wouldn't want to jump at that opportunity?
Facebook currently boasts 11 of these Social Plugins. While some are definitely more useful than others, these plugins offer some awesome opportunities to amplify your business' social media marketing efforts. Let's cover each of Facebook's Social Plugins, discuss what they are, and show you how you can use them creatively and effectively on your website. (Note: Installation of Facebook's Social Plugins may require some help from your development team.)
What it Is: The Like Button is probably the most common Facebook Social Plugin on the web, and I'm sure you've seen it on other websites and blogs already. The plugin allows users to share pages from your site on their Facebook profile with just one click. It's Facebook's official "share" button for the web.
Marketing Uses: The Like Button is a Facebook plugin staple. Adding it to your website will encourage readers to share your content with their individual networks on Facebook. Doing so will expose your content to potential fans and customers outside of your direct network and expand your reach. Here's a sampling of ideas for where you should add this button:
- To every individual blog post you publish
- To the landing pages for your lead gen offers
- To your website's homepage
- To you website's case studies pages
- Any page you want visitors to share with their Facebook friends!
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page on the Like Button to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Send Button enables your website visitors to easily send content to their friends in a private message, whether it's via a Facebook message, a wall post to a specific Facebook Group, or an email.
Marketing Uses: While this plugin, given it's more private applications, won't increase the reach of your content quite as much as the Like Button, it can offer your less public website visitors more sharing options for your content. In addition, if you're already planning on adding a Like Button to your content, you can create a combined button that displays the Like and Send Buttons next to each other on your web page. Use the Send Button anywhere you'd use the Like Button to provide your web visitors with additional sharing options!
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Send Button to learn how to install it (or a combined Like/Send Button) on your website.
What it Is: The Comments Box is a plugin that allows visitors to comment on your website. It leverages social signals to highlight the highest quality comments from users and are ordered to display the most relevant comments from friends, friends of friends, and the most Liked or active discussion threads. If a commenter keeps the “Post to Facebook” box checked when posting a comment, a story will appear in his/her friends’ News Feeds mentioning that he/she made a comment on your website. It will also link back to your website. And if someone comments on the story on Facebook, the comment will get pulled into the Comments Box on your site as well!
Marketing Uses: At first glance, Facebook's Comments Box sounds a lot like the comments feature on your blog, right? But with Facebook's plugin, commenting becomes so much more social, as comments can get published to Facebook and attract even more attention to the page on which the Comments Box resides. Furthermore, the Comments Box can be added to any page on your site, even if it's not a blog. Consider the following places you can add a Comments Box to your website to increase social sharing, leverage transparency, and promote third-party social validation:
- To your products pages
- To you case studies pages
- To your website's content library
- To your testimonials page
- To a dedicated landing page to generate discussion or feedback around a specific topic
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Comments Box to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: Facebook's Activity Feed plugin displays the most interesting recent activity taking place on your website. The feed features content users have Liked on your site, content from your site that users have shared on Facebook, and content that users have commented on in a page's Comments Box (if installed).
Marketing Uses: The Activity Feed is a great way for you to feature some of your website's or blog's top content and attract/keep the attention of new visitors to your website. For a first-time visitor, a new site can be daunting. Where should they go? Which content should the check out? Use the Activity Feed to bubble up your top content to engage new visitors right off the bat and showcase your most recently published hits to returning visitors. A great place for this plugin is your blog, but you can also publish it to your homepage to surface your most popular content right off the bat. You can also opt to show recommendations in this plugin, which we'll discuss next. (Note: In order for this plugin to be useful to your visitors, your site needs to be generating a solid amount of traffic from users that take action by Liking, commenting, or sharing.)
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Activity Feed to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Recommendations Plugin displays personalized recommendations to users based on all the social interactions with URLs from your website and the users' friends' activity.
Marketing Uses: The Recommendations Plugin provides marketing benefits similar to the Activity Feed, but again, you'll first want to weigh whether or not your website generates enough traffic and social activity before you determine this plugin's worth. A simple test on one of your pages will do the trick to help you identify whether or not the plugin is providing value or not to your site visitors. If you do decide the plugin proves beneficial, consider adding it to your blog to surface content to your visitors they might find particularly useful, leveraging the power of personalization and third-party validation in your marketing.
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Recommendations Plugin to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Like Box enables businesses to attract new Likes (AKA fans) for their Facebook business page directly from their website. Site visitors can like their page with just one click without needing to leave the site to visit Facebook. The Like Box also shows how many other total Facebook users like the page, how many of the individual visitor's Facebook friends also like the page, and highlights posts recently published to the Facebook page.
Marketing Uses: Next to the Like Button, the Like Box is probably one of marketers' most useful Facebook Social Plugins. Essentially a "follow us on Facebook" button for your website, the Like Box is a great way to increase the following for your Facebook page and increase your Facebook reach overall. It makes it easy for site visitors to become fans, and eliminates the friction of requiring site visitors to leave your site to like your Facebook page. Great places to add the Like Box to your website include:
- Your homepage
- Your website's "About Us" page
- Your website's "Contact Us" page
- Your website's newsroom/press room
- Your blog
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Like Box to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Subscribe Button is the equivalent of a Like Box for a personal profile. It enables a user to subscribe to a particular Facebook profile's public updates.
Marketing Uses: While you might think the Subscribe Button has little marketing application since it only applies to individual Facebook profiles and not business pages, there's actually a very effective use for it. Think about it: your reach on Facebook isn't limited to just your Facebook page. Chances are your employees are on Facebook, too, and it's likely they're already sharing information, content, and updates about your brand. Some of them probably have tons of Facebook friends, meaning they have a huge reach! If you have pages on your website featuring bios for your employees (or maybe just your executive management team), and they're on Facebook, it couldn't hurt to add subscribe buttons to those pages. Someone interested in your brand might also want to follow the individual updates of your company's CEO. Just be sure to encourage employees to share your business' content, too!
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Subscribe Button to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: Facebook's Registration Plugin enables users to easily sign up for your website using their Facebook account. When the user is logged into Facebook, it automatically populates registration fields with information pulled from the user's Facebook account to make signup quick and simple. If a user does not have a Facebook account, the same form can be used to collect registration information to create a seamless registration experience for both the user and the site.
Creative Marketing Uses: Considering that Facebook has accumulated 800 million users, using a Facebook-powered registration process will be helpful to many of your site visitors, eliminating time and effort. You can use this feature if you're implementing any sort of registration process on your website, whether your site includes a community element or you're attracting sign-ups for an upcoming event, webinar, or even content downloads. Keep in mind that Facebook's Registration Plugin doesn't need to be your site's only method of registration--it can be used in addition to other methods, providing another sign-up option for users.
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Registration Plugin to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Login Button offers a gateway for users to log in to your website. In addition, it displays profile pictures of a user's friends who have already signed up for your site.
Marketing Uses: The Login Button is useful on the condition that you're also using the Registration Plugin for your site. The key draw of the Facebook Login Button is that, when users are logged in, the website owner has the ability to access personal information that user has also provided to the Facebook network. As a site owner, this can provide valuable data and intelligence about the types of community members you're attracting.
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Login Plugin to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: The Facepile Plugin displays thumbnail-sized profile images of Facebook users who have Liked a particular page on your website or signed up for your site via the Registration Plugin.
Marketing Uses: The Facebook Plugin is a great tool for taking advantage of the effects of social validation/proof. If a visitor recognizes a face of a friend who has Liked a particular piece of content on your website, it will add an element of trust and credibility to that content and your brand, and may even encourage them to Like the content, too.
The caveat to this particular plugin is that, if a site visitor has few friends (or few friends who have Liked the page), no pictures will display in the plugin. If some users have liked your page, but those users don't represent any of the visiting user's friends, the plugin will instead show the total number of users who have Liked the page.
However, marketers should leverage this plugin on pages that generate a lot of traffic, such as their blog's homepage, or pages that would benefit from the power of social proof, such as landing pages or testimonial and case study pages. Marketers can also use this plugin as a complement to a Registration Plugin. If a visitor sees that his/her friends have already signed up, they'll be more likely to sign up themselves.
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Facepile Plugin to learn how to install it on your website.
What it Is: Facebook's Live Stream plugin allows users who are visiting your site or application to share activity and comments in real time. Comments will also get pulled into the commenter's Facebook account if they keep the "Post to Facebook" box checked.
Creative Marketing Uses: Although not much different than the Comments Box, the Live Stream function is best suited for events that are happening in real time. Unlike the Comments Box, it does not filter comments for high quality or for relevance from your friends, but rather it shows all comments in real time. Use this feature to generate discussion while you're live streaming a video at an event, or hosting a live event of your own and want to centralize discussion on a particular landing page you've created. By integrating it with Facebook, you'll be expanding that conversation's reach to other Facebook users who may not have been otherwise aware.
How to Install: Visit Facebook's page about the Live Stream Plugin to learn how to install it on your website.
Image Credit: owenwbrown