100K Sites 'Like' Facebook's Social Plug-ins, Pick Up Big Traffic

  |  May 11, 2010   |  Comments

Social media brand says the number of sites using "Like" and "Recommend" buttons has doubled in the last two weeks. WashingtonPost.com's referral traffic has jumped by 290 percent.

One-hundred-thousand Web sites have implemented Facebook's social plug-ins since they were introduced three weeks ago, according to a post on the social site's blog earlier today. The report comes less than two weeks since the Palo Alto, CA-based company stated that 50,000 sites had installed the plug-ins, such as the "Like" and "Recommend" buttons.

Facebook's post on Tuesday centered on a range of name brands that have supposedly seen big upticks in Facebook referral traffic. Not surprisingly, many of the standouts were publishers.

Here are the four most noteworthy brands mentioned in the blog:

- WashingtonPost.com's traffic from Facebook skyrocketed by 290 percent.
- NHL.com and Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail saw an 80 percent traffic lift, respectively.
- IMDb.com generated more than 350,000 hits of the Like button.

Meanwhile, some early adapters are syncing up their marketing systems to access and leverage Facebook user data. The ways in which they are addressing data access can be broken into three main levels.

Instant Personalization: Facebook's select partners Pandora, Yelp, and Microsoft's Docs.com have been serving first-time and repeat visitors personalized experiences based on their profile data - if they arrive logged into the social site. As one example, a visitor's Facebook friends who are also registered Yelp users will appear when that person goes to Yelp.com - even if the friends are offline. The friends' profile pictures from their account at the restaurant reviews site appear underneath copy that's meant to drive site registration: "Hey, 7 of your friends have joined Yelp."

Social plug-ins + "Login with Facebook": Some of the data that can be accessed via Instant Personalization is also available to non-partners using the plug-ins and "Login with Facebook." This includes always public Facebook profile elements like name, profile photo, gender, and current city - along with other set-to-public information. Facebook has its privacy default controls set to opt-in. Therefore, "set to public" is predicated on a user not opting out of the privacy control settings "Everyone," "Only Friends," and "Friends of Friends," in favor of giving no public access through the "Customize" module. If settings aren't changed via the Customize module, personal information, such as Likes/interests, birthday, and education/work, can be accessed by a site for that individual, as well as his or her friends' information that's set to one of the three public settings seen above.

Companies such as Levi's are employing social plug-ins in conjunction with "Login with Facebook," which is similar to the two-year-old Facebook Connect in terms of how it bridges the gap between sites and Facebook. "Login with Facebook" appears to be lucrative because it can facilitate data from the Like button when that data is set to public.

So when users visit Levi.com while logged into Facebook and enter the jeans company's "Friends Store," they will see their Facebook friends' upcoming birthdays - along with their names and profile pictures - unless those individuals have customized the birthday setting in their privacy controls. Any site - no matter how big or small the company behind it - can leverage this data access for their marketing purposes.

"It's just a few lines of code," said Malorie Lucich, spokesperson for Facebook. "It's what Facebook Connect was. It's logging into another site with your Facebook credentials."

Social plug-ins only: Most of the 50,000 sites fall into this category, Lucich said. Sites like WashingtonPost.com - as well as bloggers and other small sites - have incorporated the plug-ins to increase traffic, but aren't using "Login with Facebook," she said. In short, visitors to those sites - who arrive while logged onto Facebook - can click "Like" buttons to express themselves. Their "Likes" appear on the third-party site and in their activity feeds at Facebook.com, while they also can view what friends are "Liking" or "Recommending."

"So when I go to WashingtonPost.com, I'll see the articles my friends are sharing and also the most popular articles on the site based on what other people are 'Liking,'" Lucich explained. "And The Washington Post doesn't get any of that data. They just get aggregate anonymous data because they don't have a 'Login with Facebook' button....They don't see our user IDs, but they can see a bunch of people 'Liked' an article."

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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