Saturday 30 June 2012

Facebook testing new ‘Want’ button plugin

Facebook is apparently testing a new feature that enables users to ‘want’ a product on the social network. The new plugin is similar to the ‘Like’ button on Facebook which is used almost all across the web. The new ‘Want’ button plugin, if implemented, might form a major part of the company’s efforts to increase advertising revenue in light of criticism from investors due to the average performance of its IPO.

According to a report by Inside Facebook, developer Tom Waddington from Cut Out + Keep discovered that a Want button has been added to the Facebook Javascript SDK as an XFBML tag – <fb:wants>. The button is not publicly listed among the other social plugins on Facebook’s developer site. The report quotes Waddington as saying the button will only work on Open Graph objects marked as ‘products’.

“With Open Graph, developers have been able to create their own “want” actions, but users have to authorize a third-party app in order for those buttons to generate stories on Timeline and News Feed. If the Want button plugin works similarly to the Like button, users will not have to go through the step of authorizing an app. This means even more users will be likely to click it,” the report states.

The ‘Want’ button, if implemented, could add to Facebook’s already massive user demographics database. By indicating their desires, users will let Facebook create a database that may allow advertisers to more accurately target users, helping the company in its competition with Google’s search-based advertising model. If implemented, this plugin would be augmenting Facebook’s widely-successful ‘Like’ button, which forms the core of the company’s ‘Sponsored Stories’ feature. User data generated from ‘wants’ could be used to target the sponsored products in combination with data generated from their ‘likes’.

Such a plugin could have wide-ranging uses and implications. For instance, Nike might launch a campaign wherein users ‘wanting’ a newly-launched shoe would be offered a discount or freebies. According to a report by Digital Trends, the ‘Want’ plugin could let third party developers use the user data generated by the button to build tools such as wish-lists and product recommendations.

Inside Facebook added, “Although publishing “Want” actions is currently disabled by Facebook, Waddington was able to implement a version of the button on his own site. Clicking the Want button returns an error for now.”

In a reply to Inside Facebook, the company stated, “We're always testing new Platform features, however we have nothing new to announce."

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