If you head over to the Facebook For Websites page, you will find an overview of all of the social plugins available to publishers.
Facebook has made it extremely user friendly for publishers to implement the like buttons into their web pages. It can be done without a tremendous amount of coding and technical knowledge.
However, once publishers learn how to implement the like buttons, they need to decide what type of button to use. The main decision comes down to whether a publisher wants to use like buttons which allow users to like a specific piece of content — or like buttons which allow users to like the respective website’s entire Facebook fan page.
Facebook like buttons that allow the user to like a piece of content are popular on article and news sites. The reason for this is that often users really enjoy an article and the like button makes it extremely simple for the user to notify all of their Facebook friends about the cool story they just read. Facebook also allows the user to comment while they are liking the given story, which allows the user to give a description alongside the respective link that they are sharing.
We run a site with satellite views, allowing users for example to see a satellite view of Nationals Park in Washington D.C., or view the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. As you can see, above the map, there is a like button allowing the user to like and comment about the map to notify their friends of it.
The other option for web publishers is to allow their users to like their fan page. Facebook allows websites to setup fan pages which must be administered by a user. When users like a fan page, they can then get an update in their news feed any time you update the Fan page with a new post.
If you visit our professional resume example website, down the middle on the right hand side you will see our fan page applet. This applet makes it easy for users to like our Facebook fan page directly from our website and it also streams in our latest posts. By displaying our latest posts, it gives our website a real time feel and we can essentially update content on our website directly from Facebook which makes things easier on all of us.
Both of these options are compelling, and at the end of the day , there is no reason why publishers can’t utilize both plugins in different areas of the same website. Being able to like a specific article is a good experience for the user who can directly update their news feed with something that they enjoyed.
However, the drawback of this implementation is that it’s a one-shot deal. Once a user likes an article — and it is displayed on the person’s news feed –you have no further connection or interaction with that individual.
On the other hand, getting users to like your fan page allows you to continue to display updates in the news feed of the user that liked your page; so you can have an ongoing dialogue. However, the posts would only show up in the one respective users news feed whereas when they like an article, it goes to all of their friends news feeds.
In terms of width and height, the like button for content is very small while the applet for a website’s Facebook fan page is bigger; so publishers must factor in the layout of their given web pages as well.
Getting someone to like your page is like getting them to sign up for your mailing list. Getting someone to like a piece of content on your site is like getting them to email all of their friends, one time, about a specific story on your site.
So, the decision for publishers usually isn’t which one to use; instead it is which areas of the website deserve a like button, and which areas of the site deserve the applet which feeds in content and gets users to like an entire fan page.