Facebook‘s basic tenet is social sharing – and Facebook’s users share information about everything - what they like, what they don’t like, what they listen to, what they watch, what they buy. There is a huge amount of information, that if accessible to the right channels, could uniquely shape the web experience for each user, and be of immense value to marketers. Facebook makes use of the Open Graph protocol to help to collate all this information, sort through it, and with the help of an application, this can become available to those who it is relevant for: brands.
In this post, we talk about Open Graph applications and how they work in the Facebook timeline, we mention some examples of applications that have integrated with Open Graph, and share best practices for developing these applications for your brand.
What are Open Graph applications?
Open Graph applications can be integrated into the Facebook experience, and users can share a variety of actions that they engage with the app on.
“After a user adds your app to their timeline, app specific actions are shared on Facebook via open graph. As your app becomes an important part of how users express themselves, these actions are more prominently displayed throughout timeline, news feed, and ticker. This enables your app to become a key part of the Facebook experience for the user and their friends.” – from the Facebook Developers’ Blog
Open graph allows apps to model user activities based on actions and objects. For instance, a food brand could have an app that allows users to ‘cook’ a ‘recipe’; or a fashion brand could let people ‘try’ a ‘dress’. These activities could then be shared, with a single API, to their timeline, app views, news feed, and ticker.
In the open graph, ‘cook’ and ‘try’ are called Actions, and ‘recipe’ and ‘dress’ are Objects. Actions are the high-level interactions users can perform in the app, while Objects represent entities that users can act on in your app. The Facebook ‘like’ was the first action that people became familiar with, but equally familiar now are customised actions like ‘listen’ on the Spotify app.
Why should you integrate Open Graph applications on Facebook?
Open graph applications have been instrumental in significantly augmenting referral traffic from Facebook to their hosting website. Tumblr recorded a 2.5 times increase, as we had reported earlier. Spotify, Pinterest and Foodspotting are among the other apps that have seen marked increases in traffic to their websites. These apps have a few things in common – ‘they’re built around something people care about and identify with, they enable people to share things they want their friends to see, and they provide easy ways to control the social experience.’
What are some brands that have Open Graph applications?
Other recent open graph application success stories have been from the domain of fashion and shopping. Some of the apps spotlighted by Facebook to demonstate this are:
- Fab: The daily design app Fab has seen an increase in membership from 1.8 million to over 4.5 million since launching with Open Graph in January. Also, 20 – 40% of their daily traffic comes from Facebook.
- Pose: Style app Pose has seen an increase of ten times in daily sign-ups for their mobile app and website since launching with Open Graph. Their views have increased 4 times, to 40 million, from a month prior to the launch.
- Giantnerd: The outdoor goods retailer has seen a 214% increase in traffic from Facebook, and a 69% increase in new user sign-ups from Facebook.
- Fashiolista: The European style inspiration company saw a 200% increase in traffic from Facebook after the first month of using Open Graph, and nearly 300% over the following months.
- Lyst: London-based social shopping site Lyst saw their user base double since launching Open Graph. additionally, people coming from Facebook to Lyst spend 50% more time on the site than other users, and more sales come through Facebook than all other social media sources combined.
From the success of these apps, the Facebook Developers’ blog also suggests some best practices for designing Open Graph applications:
- Use a call to action: Display a clear call to action to encourage people to add your app and start connecting with their friends. For example, Fab offered a limited time, promotional credit to encourage people to sign in to the social shopping experience, and during the sign in, they also show which of your friends are using the app.
- Create multiple action types: Apps should experiment with actions related to each point of the buying life cycle, from discovery through purchase. Fab enables people to ‘fave’ products, Pose users can ‘pose’ items, and Fashiolista users can ‘follow’ other people, creating more opportunities to share that are meaningful for each community.
- Use object types to create categories: Developers should create objects for categories that enable people to compile interesting timeline aggregations. For example, Pose displays a person’s ‘Most Loved Brands’ and ‘Top Loved Style Items’.
Facebook offers a tutorial to help developers built applications using Open Graph, which can be found here.
Have you integrated Open Graph to your applications yet? Do you see the benefit in doing so? Which Indian brands have you seen with integrated Open Graph apps? Share with us.