Facebook Instant Personalization: A Review of Instant Personalization’s Implementation

Written by Nick SanchezFebruary 15, 2011

This is second article of a two part series. Read Part 1: Inception to Implementation

Part 2: A Review of Instant Personalization’s Implementation

The first thing users will notice about nearly all of the Instant Personalization-privileged websites is that they let users know they’re being Instantly Personalized for by displaying the thumbnail version of the user’s profile pic and name at the top right corner of the screen with a message informing them that Facebook Instant Personalization is being used to tailor their experience.

Next to this are usually one or two roll-over dropdown menus, the first giving the user hyperlinked “Learn More” and “Turn Off Instant Personalization” options and the second giving site specific options. Now, it can be said relatively safely that the websites who imbed the “Learn More” hyperlink with a redirect to Facebook’s Instant Personalization info page are squandering their first and perhaps most important opportunity to explain how the feature works on their website and not just in general.

Two options to consider: some sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Clicker use the “Learn More” link to overlay info boxes to inform users of the features Instant Personalization gives that particular website while others like Bing and Scribd direct the link to their own Instant Personalization info page. The first option seems best for less complex websites and the latter for more involved sites. Moving forward, companies implementing the technology will have to decide what is best for their particular site. The first option minimizes mouse clicks and information inundation, while the latter offers more space for videos and tutorials for websites rich with features and tools.

Scribd’s “Learn More” overlay also includes a subtle “Invite” button with which user’s can solicit their friends to join up if they’re not already. This is especially smart because it’s possible users might not have any friends who’ve been active on the site yet, and thus many useful and fun social features a site has taken the pains to program would be for naught.

The next item you will likely notice on these sites is arguably the lynchpin of Instant Personalization: thumbnails of your friends. Ideally, the thumbnails would show friends who’ve already engaged with the site, however, there’s again the possibility that the user will be the first of their friends to do so. In this case, it’s a good idea to think about incorporating the Interests information from the user’s profile and/or that of their Friends’ to do what sites like Rotten Tomatoes does.

By accessing the Movies section of the user, the Rotten Tomatoes populates a Recommended Movies frame based on what the user lists in their Facebook profile. Doubling up on this smart effort, the site populates a slim frame with thumbnails of their friends listed next to Movies they’ve “Liked” by listing them on their profiles. Clicking the titles of friends’ liked movies takes the user deeper into the Rotten Tomatoes site by directing to the dedicated page for that particular movie. Fantastic implementation.

One possible misstep to avoid here is doing what Microsoft Docs does. Instead of a frame showing info or activity from a user’s friends, Docs shows a frame full of random people’s thumbnail pics who’ve “Liked” Docs. Some users may like this and some might view these non-friend Facebookers as irrelevant and possibly cluttering, so weigh this option carefully.

Lastly, Facebook Instant Personalization can be used to sign up for a profile on most of these sites. On Scribd, your profile pic is pulled into your site-specific profile via Instant Personalization. For others, clicking on a registration link launches that site’s Facebook Connect capabilities, which can draw upon any private information a user allows it, and usually signals the limit of that site’s IP implementation.

For many if not most websites seeking to implement social features in the future, Instant Personalization will act primarily as a tool to intrigue first time viewers with friend interests or activity, and ultimately get them to the point where they desire and allow the experience that only the personal info accessed by Facebook Connect can offer. In this view, Instant Personalization is a stepping stone to deeper engagement. However, this is not to say that simpler sites (dealing in the public information Instant Personalization accesses) can’t use the technology as their primary vehicle for social interactivity. In many cases Instant Personalization is a great choice for doing so.

And no matter what the case, Instant Personalization is a tool that can offer great advantages when implemented correctly. It has something to offer everyone, and all companies seeking to foster social interactions on their site should certainly seek to employ it.

Social login powered by Gigya