Facebook Pushes ‘Like’ Button to Many Sites

Facebook is set to dramatically increase its presence on the Web by syndicating its well-known “Like” button to numerous third party sites. Speaking during the keynote address today at the social site’s f8 conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his Palo Alto, CA-based company has been working with 75 partners and plans to quickly proliferate the button on their sites. By doing so it will extend user profiles and Facebook’s own brand to destinations such as Pandora.com and NYTimes.com.

“When we launch later today, we expect we’ll serve 1 billion Like buttons on the Web within 24 hours,” Zuckerberg said.

The button can already be seen at Pandora.com and movie site IMDB.com (seen below). When users who are logged into their Facebook accounts visit those sites and hit the Like button for a piece of content, their name and profile picture will be seen near the item, band, or movie.

The action will also appear in a user’s news feed. If the user hits the Like button a second time, they will then “un-like” the item, and their name and profile picture will be removed.

Also, the user can see names and profile pictures of Facebook friends who have tapped the button on third-party sites. In essence by using a similar protocol to Facebook Connect, the button transports a user’s community to whatever sites decide to incorporate the plug-in.

Michael Davidson, CEO of Newsvine.com, which is part of MSNBC.com, said he expected almost zero push-back from major consumer editorial brands to the idea of an increased Facebook presence on their sites.

“One of the best things about [the Like button] is that it does the same thing as Connect without users having to [activate] Connect,” Davidson said. “It makes things easier. And we like it when Facebook makes things easier.”

IMDB.jpg Many publishers like MSNBC.com, no doubt, will invite whatever extra traffic and user interactivity the Like button may bring. For that reason, the move also carries potentially healthy implications for e-retailers. Product recommendations can now include a Facebook friend’s seal of approval. Jeans manufacturer Levi’s is one of the earliest retail entities known to test the Like button.

In addition, Bret Taylor, product director for Facebook, revealed that developers will be able to search the social site’s entire database for brand mentions and extract them for marketing purposes. The information will appear as a “module that says what people are saying about [a] brand,” Taylor explained.

Both the Like button’s pervasiveness and the search capability are made possible by Facebook’s new open-graph protocol that’s designed to give developers greater freedoms. In another manifestation of that strategy, Zuckerberg and Taylor both noted Facebook is getting rid of a policy preventing developers from storing data for more than 24 hours.

Speaking of data, Zuckerberg’s presentation appeared to hint at new data sharing relationships with partner Web sites. For instance, toward the end of his speech he described what first-time visitors to music site Pandora.com – one of the beta testers for the Like button – may experience if they are currently logged into Facebook. He said, “It will be able to start playing music from bands you’ve been playing across the Web.” It was not immediately clear what sources of user music preferences Facebook and Pandora might have access to.

“These features build on the same benefits that brands have experienced with other Facebook integrations,” a Facebook representative told ClickZ. “As sites offer people more relevant and personalized experiences on the Web, brands can benefit from richer engagement with their fans.”

You can follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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