Facebook has been making some significant changes to some aspects of the service for the past months mostly in direct response to Twitter's popularity. The social network has been opening up its vast content and turning away from the traditional stance, encouraging users to share more. Still, Twitter is far more popular as a sharing platform despite having a significantly smaller audience and one reason is the ease with which users can share stories they like on the microblogging service. Facebook is aiming to change that with a brand-new share button and by adding some analytics tools for web site owners.
“Each week, users share more than 2 billion pieces of content on Facebook, and most of that sharing is facilitated by Facebook Share buttons across the Web,” Mark Kinsey, product manager for the Facebook Platform team, wrote. “With just a few lines of code, Facebook Share is the simplest Facebook Connect, feature you can add to a website. Today we're making the sharing experience on Facebook and off even richer by launching the next version of Facebook Share, with a live counter, as well as new ways to measure how content is being shared on Facebook.
The Facebook Share button has already been in testing on several sites and is now available for anyone to implement. The biggest change is the fact that the button now features a counter showing how many times the story has been shared. The button is actually an extension of Facebook Connect and is one of the simplest implementations of the login standard. It is one of the most important components in the whole process but the real interesting part of the announcement is the analytics tools, which are now available for every story shared on Facebook.
These analytics tools will allow web site owners to keep track of stats like how many users share the link, how many “likes” it gets, how many comment on it and, perhaps the most important, how many click on the link to go back to the original story. The data can be accessed through the Facebook API and the social network says that several sites are already using it for their services like Techmeme for selecting the most popular stories and Bit.ly for measuring link traffic.