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Barely a week since launch, 50,000+ sites are already using Facebook’s new ‘Open Graph’ social plugins to offer visitors social features they are accustomed to in Facebook; the social plugin for the already ubiquitous Like button alone generated 1,000,000,000 impressions within 24 hours of debuting, and it may be set to play an important role in the evolution of Web 3.0 – the semantic web.

For social commerce, the opportunities are clear – brands and retailers can now add Facebook social features, social context and social relevancy to e-commerce sites with no more than a single line of code; new markup tags register a product pages as unique objects in Facebook, pulling them into, and allowing them to profit from the Facebook ecosystem. As a bonus, sites deploying Open Graph social plugins get to use Facebook’s powerful Insights metrics tools.

In a nutshell, with Open Graph, what happens in Facebook, doesn’t stay in Facebook. No longer confined to storefronts within Facebook, f-commerce is will be coming to a site near you.  Open Graph is f-commerce unleashed.

Of course, some of the functionality offered by Open Graph social plugins and the associated API and SDK isn’t entirely new; it has or rather had been available with Facebook Connect (which has now been retired), but implementation required coding-ninja skills in XFBML and FQL.  In contrast, the new social plugins offer a more-or-less one-click solution for deploying compelling personalized social shopping experiences.

1. Like Button:  Provides shoppers with a social context to online shopping, showing them which of their friends like a product or site (see ItsTrending.com as an early use of this for aggregating likes or recommendations (the ‘like’ label on the button can be relabeled as ‘recommend’), and lets them share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click.

2. Activity Feed: Allows shoppers to see a filtered view of their News Feed relevant to your site – i.e. your News Feed and the likes and comments of their friends

3. Recommendations Plugin:  Offers shoppers suggestions for things they might like – a collaborative filtering algorithm based on the collective mutual interests of shoppers on the site, as well as from the shopper’s personal friends.

4. Like Box Plugin: Allows shoppers to see your Facebook stream directly on your website

5. Facepile Plugin: Provides a social context to shopping by showing shoppers the profile pictures of the their friends who have already signed up for your site.

6. Login Button with Faces Plugin: (Replaces Facebook Connect Login Button): Provides a social context to shopping by showing shoppers the profile pictures of the their friends who have already signed up for your site.

7. Comments Plugin:  Allows shoppers to comment on products and deals on your site

8. Live Stream Plugin: Allows shoppers to shop together, sharing activity and comments in real-time on your site

9. Social Bar Plugin (coming soon): Adds an all-in-one social shopping toolbar (not dissimilar of DecisionStep Meebo social bars) to a site that includes the Like button, friends who like the site, and Facebook Chat

10. Facebook Credits: Not a social plugin per se, but Facebook is ramping up it’s virtual currency ‘Credits’ by offering them as a payout option for online loyalty/referral rewards programs through is App2User program, as well as making purchasing credits easier.

To illustrate the potential of Open Graph, Facebook has showcased three companies already using it to offer personalized socially-enhanced experiences on their sites; Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft.  Whilst these examples do not pertain specifically to social commerce,  a little lateral thinking reveals how they might be used to offer compelling social shopping experiences.

Yelp: When you now visit the ratings and reviews site, you see a notification that the content is already being personalized for you based on your social graph (with opportunity to opt out).  In practice, what this means you see a ‘Friend’s Activity’ link in the top let hand corner, giving you access to ratings, reviews and comments made by your friends, two photo-bars of friends – those using the site, and those currently on the site, and the FBLike buttons next to search results that you can send to your news feed.  Social Commerce Opportunity: Levi’s Style Social Shopping.

Pandora: When you now access the Internet radio site, you’ll see – like Yelp – a notification that the content is already being personalized for you based on your social graph.  What this means in practice is that there is a new feature on the interface, called Friends’ Music, which you allows you to explore the radio stations and tracks liked by your Facebook friends.  For a FB immigrant as opposed to a FB native, it still feels spookily intimate to ruffle through friends personal music (Séverine – Fedde Le Grand, really?). Pandora will also let you know visually when you’re listening to a track or artist favorited by a friend, and if you like a track on FB, Pandora will play a recommendation based on this, when you next log on. Social Commerce Opportunity: Social Wishlists, Giftlists, Picklists and Popularity Lists; Personalized Shopping Recommendations.

Microsoft: As with Yelp and Pandora, you see a notification at the top of the page that new Microsoft Docs.com site (in private beta) and would-be Google Docs challenger, is personalizing your experience.  In plain English, what this means is that you can share docs with some or all of your FB contacts, publish docs to your FB Wall (allowing others can comment on it), and browse shared documents of your FB friends on the site. Social Commerce Opportunity: What if the Document was a Coupon?  Deal Sharing.  Or a call to arms to organize a Tuangou (team buying event)?

Of course, using Facebook as a social commerce solution provider is not devoid of risks as competitor DecisionStep has pointed out; and joining your site at the hips with the whims of Mark Zuckerburg could be something of a roller-coaster ride.  Nevertheless, Facebook’s Open Graph is a game-changer in social commerce, and the social commerce world has just got a lot more exciting.

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    Tweets that mention f-commerce Unleashed: Microsoft, Pandora & Yelp Show the Open Graph Way | Social Commerce Today — Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Marsden. Paul Marsden said: f-commerce Unleashed: Microsoft, Pandora & Yelp Show the Open Graph Way | Social Commerce Today http://icio.us/kkrstr […]

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    awaldstein

    Useful post. Thnx.

    Question for you…Outside of the normal Facebook Stats page, do you know of a resource that updates the ‘Likes’ and sites embedding social plug-ins number? Hard to find an accurate resource to trend this.

    Re: privacy. Are you in agreement with DecisionStep that you link to in your post? My take is that commerce efficiency will change the privacy bar for most and that this debate is more noise than signal… http://bt.io/F4yU

    I’m enjoying your blog.

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      Paul Marsden

      Hi Arnold, thanks for comment, I enjoyed your recent post on social commerce.

      It would certainly be useful to have reliable stats for all the FB social plugins, but I’m not aware if/where FB make them available…

      On privacy, interesting question – the Beacon debacle always lurks, but expectations do change with experience, and ultimately I think it’s all about an evolving privacy/utility tradeoff, as long as FB stay on the right side – offering compelling utility, I think they’ll take the hit on privacy (which is why I think FB Connect was so successful and made fewer waves than expected)…

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    awaldstein

    Paul

    It’s a pleasure to ‘talk’ with you. We are both interested in commerce but come from different vantage points. Looking forward to ongoing discussion.

    Yeah, FB is tough for data. Either http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics or I sometimes dive into the ad engine and can calculate growth by geographies.

    Privacy is in a redefinition phase…the commerce upsides of the ‘check-in’ FourSquare model is going to turn this around.

    BTW–your comment systems doesn’t notify me of an ongoing comment string. My fault? Consider Disqus…advantages are many and the communities that use them are ones that you are interested in.

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    f-commerce statistics roundup: Facebook commerce by the numbers | Social Commerce Today

    […] 50,000+: Number of websites that integrated Facebook social plugins (incl. ‘Like’) in the week they launched […]

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    Social Media ROI (Qualitative & Quantitative) «

    […] 50,000+: Number of websites that integrated Facebook social plugins (incl. ‘Like’) in the week they launched […]