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Social Plug-In Options for Your Facebook Marketing Campaign

Social plug-ins allow visitors to your website to view content that their Facebook friends have liked, commented on, or shared. If visitors to your site are logged in to their Facebook accounts, they can help your website content go viral on Facebook without ever leaving your site.

Facebook has created a special section within its developer site that explains the different plug-ins, provides tools for generating the code needed to embed each within your site, and showcases superior implementations on real-world websites. The plug-ins are free for anyone to use and allow you to add an interactive layer to your site that complements your Facebook marketing strategy. You can use these plug-ins individually or in tandem.

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Deciding which plug-in to integrate into your site can be a bit daunting because some of their capabilities overlap. To help you decide which plug-in is right for your needs, here are brief descriptions and examples of each:

  • Like button: This simple one-button design allows anyone who’s signed in to Facebook to show approval of your content. The Like count increases as more people click it.

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    When a user clicks the Like button, a news story publishes to his News Feed, and this story includes a link back to the content on your site. If your site offers a lot of content that users can like individually, the Like button is a good way to establish more opportunities to connect with users.

  • Send button: Similar to the Like button, the Send button allows Facebook users to send your website’s content to specific friends or Facebook Groups. This plug-in also gives website visitors the option to e-mail your website content.

  • Follow button: The Follow button lets you promote your personal profile from your website. This is best used if you are an author, a celebrity, or a spokesperson for a company who uses your personal profile to connect with your audience via public updates. When nonfriends follow you, they see only your public updates.

  • Comments: This allows you to add commenting features to your website so that Facebook users can enter their comments. The plug-in gives users the option to have their comments published to their Facebook News Feeds, and these republished comments include a link back to the comments on your site.

    For content that isn’t appropriate for people to comment on, such as product information, don’t use this plug-in. However, for blogs or more opinionated content, the added exposure through the News Feed can provide you with a good source of traffic.

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    You do have options to delete or report negative comments, but you have to manually manage the process.

  • Activity Feed: This plug-in shows recent Facebook-related activity around your site as a stream, which includes how many people have liked, commented on, or shared your content. This plug-in can really boost your site’s exposure if it has an active Facebook following and regularly updated content.

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  • Recommendations Box: The Recommendations Box shows personalized recommendations to your users. For a logged-in Facebook user, the plug-in gives preference to friends with whom the visitor has interacted the most.

  • Recommendations Bar: The Recommendations Bar is a pop-up window that appears in response to how long someone has been reading an article, or how far she has scrolled down the web page. Like the Recommendations Box, it too shows personalized recommendations to your users. For a logged-in Facebook user, the plug-in gives preference to friends with whom the visitor has interacted the most.

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  • Like Box: The Like Box plug-in provides a one-click button, but the Like relates to your Facebook Page, rather than your profile. It also publishes a story about liking your Facebook Page directly on the user’s timeline. When customizing the Like Box for your site, you can include profile pictures of Facebook users who have already liked your site and show the latest posts from your Facebook Page.

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  • Login button: This allows visitors to log in to your website by using their Facebook user IDs and passwords. This plug-in also displays the Facebook profile pictures of a user’s friends who have signed up. If you want to increase user registration on your website, this option is a good choice: By showing a user which friends are already logging in to your site, it helps you encourage engagement.

  • Registration: This plug-in allows Facebook users to register on your website with their Facebook accounts. When logged in to Facebook, users see a form that’s already filled in with their Facebook information. This plug-in gives you the flexibility to ask for additional information, such as the visitor’s favorite band or movie. Even visitors who don’t use Facebook can use this plug-in to register for your website.

  • Facepile: This plug-in shows your visitors the profile pictures of their friends who are already site members without requiring them to be logged in to Facebook or to their already-established account within your site. If none of a visitor’s friends has previously signed up, no profile pictures appear. When combined with Facebook’s Login button, this plug-in can dramatically increase user registrations to your site.

    If your site offers a service that requires a separate login process, the Facepile plug-in is a nice way to highlight visitors’ Facebook friends who have already signed up. Just like the Login Button plug-in, the Facepile plug-in dynamically resizes its height depending on how many friends of the user have already signed up.

Although these social plug-ins may allow your site to display visitors’ personal Facebook data, they won’t actually pass that data to your site — that is, you can’t track that data, manipulate it, or store it in a database — and visitors’ profile pictures and comments are visible only if they’re logged in to Facebook.

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