Social Plugins: What are Social Plugins and How Can They Improve Your Web Site?

Written by Robin WildingNovember 29, 2010

What Are Social Plugins?

Social plugins are friends with benefits. They are small additions to your website that allow you to leverage Facebook’s 500 million users to increase web traffic to your site.  These plugins are leading to the social optimization of the Internet, and it is catching on like wildfire. According to social media consultant Roderick, he found that “U.S. Facebook users spent аt Ɩеаѕt 1 min οn Facebook out οf еνеrу 3 mins online,” and this is why “44% [of companies polled] ѕаіԁ thаt thеу wουƖԁ υѕе Facebook applications tο replace microsite аnԁ οthеr specific promotions.”

Social media marketing is beginning to replace traditional forms of marketing, and Facebook developed tools called plugins to ease the transition. These ready-to-use plugins help integrate your website socially, allowing you to easily leverage social media with one simple line of code. These plugins will turn your customers into ambassadors, at the click of a (“like-me”) button.

And in no particular order, Facebook’s social Plugins are…

Like Button
The Like button allows users to link your page to their Facebook account. This will then feed into their news stream to be read by their friends, and those friends also have the ability to “like” your site. 

Like Box Plugin
The Like Box is a beefier version of the Like button. It allows users to see how many users like the page and which of their friends like it. You can also read posts from the site, and “like” it without visiting the various pages.

Recommendation Plugin
This button will use the person’s Facebook profile to customize the pages on your site best suited to each user. The pages are chosen based on previous social interactions with your site, and on the pages their friends have visited most.

Login Button Plugin
This button will display the photos of friends who have already signed up for the site. It will also allow users to use their Facebook account for credentials to login, instead of creating an account unique to your site.

Live Stream Plugin
This plugin allows users to share information, events, activity and comments related to your site, in real-time.

Comments Plugin
This interactive tool allows users to post comments about your site to their Facebook page, without ever leaving your webpage.

Activity Feed
This plugin displays the most recent Facebook activity from your site, including “Likes” and comments.

Facepile
Facepile compiles pictures of all the Facebook users who have liked the site.

The top three plugins according to Internet marketing gurus SeeWhy, are Facebook Login, Facebook Like, and Facebook Recommendations.

How They Can Benefit Your Site

24 hours after Facebook released their social plugins they had already seen over 1 billions “Likes”, and after a week had been integrated into over 50,000 websites. After 6 weeks more than 100,000 websites had integrated the “Like” plugin alone.

Website analytics and conversion guru SeeWhy has been studying the impact of social plugins and came to the conclusion that:

“With Like, Facebook is set to challenge Google. Like is rapidly becoming an index of content on the web, where the index is built based on mass popularity as opposed to an arbitrary Google algorithm. The impact of this cannot be underestimated.”

In addition to Google incorporating social plugins into its search ratings, Microsoft’s search engine Bing has also allowed for the indexing of social plugins. Meghan Halscheid, Product Manager at Performics, measures social media performance and informs us that:

“Bing and Facebook recently announced the incorporation of your friends “Likes” into the Bing search results, while Google announced the inclusion of “shares” as a factor in determining website value. As the search engines recognize the importance of users’ social graphs and continue to integrate this data in search results, advertisers can benefit from creating social context within their websites.”

Facebook has been a natural choice for many businesses looking to create an online presence, and plugins are providing a simplified way to do that. Social plugins require little to no upkeep, and are self propelling. If you consider that there are 4.5billion posts are created on Facebook each week, and the average user has 130 friends; this is a huge market.

The increase in web traffic through social plugins is undeniable: ABC received 250% more traffic with social plugins, the Globe and Mail 80% more, and IMDb 100% [source].

The exposure and traffic made possible through social media plugins is significant, but more important is the customer engagement. The experts at SeeWhy emphasize the importance of not only the awareness created by social plugins but the engagement factor,Facebook Social Plugins are the marketers [of the]‘Facebook Engine Optimization’ tool kit, which can be easily deployed to drive deeper engagement on websites using Facebook Recommendations, Logins and Likes.”

Drawbacks

The drawbacks of social plugins are almost nil. They are free, significantly increase traffic and steadily increase customer engagement. The only drawback currently being cast is that these plugins can potentially slow down your site’s load time. A posted report from a large publisher showed that a Like Box plugin slowed their page load from .72secs to 1.72secs, and their “Like” button slowed it from .031secs to 6.67secs.

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