One Problem With Facebook's New Like Button: It Doesn't Work With Connect Sites

Over the weekend while trying to implement Facebook’s extremely buzzed about “Like” button, I found out that trying to implement it on an existing Facebook Connect enabled site simply doesn’t work. I’m clearly not the only person having problems. Techcrunch implemented the “Like” button last week on the day of f8 and in turn, disabled all Facebook Connect-enabled comments.

The reason for this latest problem is that in order to get the <fb:like /> button working properly, you’ll need the latest version of Facebook’s JavaScript SDK. While you can use an IFrame version of Facebook’s Like button, the IFrame version cannot be used to replace Facebook’s existing “Share” button. Confused? Not surprising. Let me explain briefly.

Facebook’s Existing Share Button

Facebook’s current Share button which has become somewhat ubiquitous around the web, is a call to action which lets users share content as they find it. For example, at the top of every article on our site we have a share button. When you click on it, you are prompted with a box (as shown below) which enables you to publish the story to your Facebook profile. It’s a great feature and combined with the share count, it’s extremely useful to find out how well an articles is performing on Facebook. Facebook is trying to slowly phase out the share button and instead replace it with the “Like” button however. So how does the “Like” button differ?

The Full Featured “Like” Button

In its simplest form, the Facebook “Like” button lets you acknowledge that you like some piece of content on the web. However the full-featured version of the Like button also includes functionality that enables you to share the content within your profile as well. This added functionality (pictured to the right) essentially replaces the functionality of the Facebook Share button while simultaneously reducing the friction for users to validate a specific piece of content.

Facebook Phases Out Connect

It’s a great tool however as I mentioned earlier, the full-featured Like button requires that you use the latest JavaScript SDK. This is part of a greater shift away from Facebook Connect, something that Bret Taylor confirmed was being phased out during a Q&A session at last week’s f8 event. There are clearly some challenges as part of this shift however. The most obvious is that those who developed sites using the original Facebook Connect libraries also happen to be the most fervent supporters of Facebook.

While some sites (like Techcrunch) have decided to bite the bullet and make the shift, moving over to the new JavaScript SDK requires development time, and the potential of breaking existing functionality. If the site happened to implement Connect-enabled widgets, like the Disqus and the Echo commenting platforms, they’ll need to wait for those developers to upgrade their services to work with the Facebook JavaScript SDK before they implement Facebook’s full-featured Like Button.

In other words, the shift is not a simple one and straight-forward one. While many sites will probably make the shift, others will take much longer to implement the fully functional “Like” button because it requires more development time, something that most companies have limited resources of. While many publishers will do whatever it takes to get Facebook’s new Like button functioning on their sites, the average publisher may find that implementing a fully functional Like button simply isn’t easy enough.

Facebook may be racing to create the leading index of the semantic web there are still hurdles that Facebook will have to entice publishers to overcome. Have you implemented Facebook’s new Like button? Do you plan on implementing it or are you waiting on the sidelines to see how other sites perform with it?

Publish date: April 27, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT