With the Open Graph Protocol, Any URL Can Be Treated Just Like a Facebook Page

We are here at f8, where Facebook has announced its vision for the “Open Graph,” as well as a new set of plugins (widgets) designed to write to and read from the Graph on any website. Facebook’s Mark Kinsey and Austin Haugen just explained in more detail how publishers, brands, and media companies can use the Open Graph together with the Like plugin and other plugins to get more distribution and engagement across Facebook.

Essentially, by using markup tags specified in the Open Graph protocol, any website can register itself as a unique object in the Facebook ecosystem. If a Facebook user visits your site Likes your page, you then have the ability to publish information into that user’s stream. In addition, you get an administration interface, and Insights metrics tools, just like those of any Facebook Page owner.

Implementation Options

You have the option to implement Facebook’s new Like button with either an XFBML tag or an iframe. The two are exactly the same, except that when you use the XFBML tag, users get the option to add a comment. If the user adds a comment, the action is published in the feed as a full story in the stream; if not, it’s published as a one-line story.

You can also choose how wide you want the widget to be. Facebook will automatically choose profile photo sizes based on what you specify, but you can also hide profile photos, or just show the “Like” button alone (not showing how many people have liked this page overall). There is also a dark version.

Finally, publishers can specify to change the language on the Like button to “Recommend” instead of “Like.” Facebook says this is intended to allow publishers the opportunity to avoid potentially awkward language when wanting to share some types of content with friends that they want to have a conversation about – for example, a news article on a devastating natural disaster.

How to Make Facebook Treat Your URL Just Like a Facebook Page

The most important part brands, business, and publishers should pay attention to is the new “Open Graph protocol.” Essentially, by adding a little bit of HTML markup to your page, you can enable Facebook to read structure metadata about your URL and treat it as a “permanent object” in the Facebook Graph.

This has 3 consequences:

1. You can now communicate with people who Like your URL just like Fan Page owners have historically been able to communicate with fans – publishing updates to their Facebook stream.

You have to go to a Facebook admin page to do this (that happens to look exactly the same as what a traditional Facebook fan Page provides), and there you’ll be able to publish updates to everyone who has liked your URL. You just specify who can see your admin page by adding one of the two following lines of code:

  • To assign a list of users as page admins:
    <meta property="fb:admins" value="USER_ID1,USER_ID2" />
  • To assign this page to a Facebook app: 
    <meta property="fb:app_id" value="1234567" />

2. You also get all the traditional analytics tools Facebook has historically provided Fan Page owners. Facebook’s new “Insights for Your Domain” shows you the number of people who’ve liked your Page, daily active users (DAU), daily new users, etc.

3. When Facebook gets metadata about your URL (when someone likes it), it’s able to categorize it and put it in the right slot on a user’s “Info” tab on the profile, and generally display it in a more rich way whenever it shows up in the stream.