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Facebook [Next Generation] Open Graph Apps

Everyone has likely seen Spotify popping up in their News Feeds since last year, but Facebook continues to roll out new Open Graph apps – over 60 in just the last few weeks. With that in mind, I wanted to share a quick overview of how Open Graph apps are starting to (and can) be utilized.

Entertainment is the most robust category so far, with over 18 associated apps available. It is also important to note that Timeline, once optional, is now mandatory and is rumored to be available for businesses soon. With that in mind, OG apps should be developed with Timeline in mind to ensure the widest audience.

The general concept to embrace is frictionless sharing. Open Graph apps require users to allow continuous publishing permission and feature actions that can be automatically shared, rather than explicitly asking users to share individual actions (i.e. the Like button plugin).

A few high-level notes on who and what has rolled something out:

Brands:

  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Grab-a-Badge (http://social.ford.com/grab-a-badge)
  • AutoTrader

Apps:

  • News – Washington Post, Yahoo! News, USA Today
  • Travel – Where I’ve Been, TripAdvisor
  • Giving – Causes
  • Food – Foodily, Foodspotting
  • Shopping & Fashion – Pinterest, LivingSocial (no Groupon!), GiftRocket
  • Fitness – MapMyFitness, RunKeeper
  • Entertainment – Hulu, TicketMaster, StubHub, DailyMotion,

Noticeably absent:

  • YouTube
  • Groupon

There is also a distinction to be make between how app activity appears in the News Feed/Ticker and users’ actual Timelines. In short, there are more aesthetic and functional options available now than ever before.

In terms of visibility, there are two algorithms at play in the News Feed: EdgeRank and Graph Rank. EdgeRank priority is mostly governed by an item’s affinity, weight and time, relevant to a user’s personal network. At this point, not much is known about the parameters for Graph Rank. In brief:

  1. EdgeRank dictates what “normal” status items appear in any given user’s feed.
  2. Graph Rank determines how Open Graph application activity is distributed.

Feel free to browse all 60 apps and watch some of FB’s ultra PR-friendly video overviews. Enjoy.

Facebook Static FBML App Decommission Roadmap

I recently wrote about a Facebook security update for apps that kicked in on October 1st. It looks like Facebook will be making some changes to FBML as well in the near future. While you haven’t been able to create FBML apps since March, they still work.

That’s not going to be the case in the future. If you currently have old FBML apps which are currently grandfathered in, they will need to be rewritten or replaced by next June. Our recommendation is to make the updates even sooner.

From Facebook:

  1. January 1, 2012: FBML will no longer be supported. We will not fix FBML bugs after this date with the exception of security and privacy issues
  2. June 1, 2012: FBML apps will no longer work on Facebook. All FBML endpoints will be removed.

What this Means to You:

  1. Broken FBML apps will likely stay broken. You should no longer promote or depend on any FBML apps.
  2. FBML apps go away completely. At this point, any FBML apps should have been completely decommissioned or rewritten as HTML5 iFrame apps.

Resources to Migrate to an iFrame Solution:

  1. The Preferred Developer Consultant Finder on Facebook is a great tool to find Facebook Preferred Developers to help guide you through the upgrade process.
  2. Facebook and WildFire have created a step by step tutorial to guide your migration.
  3. Lastly, visit the Facebook Developer Blog to learn more – https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/568/

Do you use FBML apps? What are your migration plans?

Major Facebook Security Changes Oct 1 Audit your Applications Now!

On October 1, 2011, Facebook will make a mandatory change to all applications, as per the Facebook Developer Roadmap. Any affected application not updated before the change will become inoperable.

It is imperative that you audit any/all client Facebook apps/experiences in order to ascertain if they will be affected by these changes. Again, these changes must be made to existing Facebook applications (or inserted into current build plans for applications) – if not, these client applications will be rendered inoperable as of OCT 1.

We are sending this out now as the supported toolkits from Facebook were just updated and released and are now ready to be implemented against.

Recommended Audit steps:

  1. Identify and list all programs with Facebook integrations.
  2. Identify programs that will continue to be live after September 30, 2011.
  3. Work with your program’s associated tech resources to identify if program will be affected.

Facebook Security Update FAQ

Why is this happening?

Facebook has recently been the subject of many concerns about the level of security around the exchange of personal information with applications. This is an effort by Facebook to shore up their interfaces to prevent any exploitation.

Is this optional?

Unfortunately, Facebook has made this non-optional. Historically, Facebook has basically had the approach that changes like these have been part of the ‘cost of doing business on Facebook.’ They move fast, and expect you to also.

What will be affected?

Any application on:

  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Canvases
  • Non-Facebook site (minisite, client’s .com) using Facebook Connect

and using:

  • IFrames
  • OpenGraph
  • Facebook SDKs
    • Official
      • PHP
      • Javascript
    • Unofficial
      • Java
      • .NET
      • Ruby
      • Etc.

What will not be affected?

  1. Much older FBML applications – predating IFrame switchover.
  2. Site integrations limited to Facebook Social Plugins (Like buttons, Send buttons, etc.) that don’t do deeper Connect/OpenGraph integration.

What changes need to be made?

All applications must have valid SSL certificates and be configured to use HTTPS. This requires acquiring certificates and working with associated IT resources to install on the servers where the program is hosted. These certificates cannot be “self-signed” and must work with any modern browser without it complaining.

Integration code must upgrade to OAuth 2.0 and associated new Facebook authentication:

  • Apps using PHP SDK update to latest official Facebook PHP SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using Javascript SDK update to latest official Facebook Javascript SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using other SDKs must update in whatever manner appropriate.

In the Facebook developer console, under “Settings -> Advanced”, enable “OAuth Migration”.

What do we do if our app is hosted by a social app vendor (Involver, Buddy Media, Wildfire, Vitrue, etc.)?

Reach out to the vendor and ask them if they have a plan in place for the “Facebook OAuth 2.0 and SSL changes”.

It might be an annoying change to have to make but it’s nice to see Facebook putting some thought into privacy protection. What are your thoughts on the upgrade?

Facebook and iTunes App Store Join Forces

Thanks to the App Store Facebook Page, interacting with the iTunes App Store just got a lot easier. The page was developed and is powered by Vitrue, and now puts the App Store inside Facebook — a dream for any iTunes app lover! Now it is easy to search for apps, share them with friends, find out which apps are hot right now and which are deemed “essential” by the iTunes editors.

appstore-fb-chartsIn addition, now all of the the applications you are used to finding from iTunes or from the App Store application on your iPhone (iPhone) or iPod touch you can now find on Facebook. For example, the featured tab on the App Store’s Facebook (Facebook) page will display top apps and sales charts for paid and free apps across different categories.

Click on the “Get App” button and a browser window for that application opens up (if iTunes is installed, iTunes opens as well), allowing you to download the app with a single click. Underneath each app is a Facebook Share button that allows you to post the app to your wall and share the app with friends. The coolest part of the page is the Search & Share tab. Type in a keyword or a description for instant results, which you can then post to your wall.

appstore-fb-searchVitrue is planning on adding many more features to the App Store’s page to make sifting through the 170,000+ apps offered a bit easier.

What are your thoughts on the iTunes app and Facebook integration?

How To: Customize Your Facebook Page & Attract More Fans

Facebook Fan Pages are gaining popularity due to their high adoption rates among Facebook’s 300+ million users. Currently more than 10 million users become fans of Pages each day. However, the basic fan page layout is quite, well, basic. Adding some simple modifications can really make a Fan Page standout and  attract those valuable fans. By doing so, you’ll benefit not only improved appearance, but it is easy and cost effective as well.

The average Facebook Page lacks the ability to modify a page so that the visual appearance can match that of your website, promotional material or landing page. One simple application can add this functionality to your pages and pull in Facebook statistics as well.

The application Static FBML will allow you to create a new tab on your Facebook Page that can be completely customized to mimic your web presence and branding by displaying HTML and FBML so that you can render a truly customized section for your fans. Here is a step-by-step look at how you can implement this tactic.

First, you must have an active Facebook Page that you have admin access to. Then, head over to the Static FMBL Page and choose the “Add To My Page” link:

Static FBML

Once clicked, you will have the ability to choose a page (or pages) that you can add this application to. The application will then be added to the chosen Page(s) and will be labeled “FBML.”

Next, you will want to click “edit your page” then choose to edit the “FBML – FBML” application.

Change Name of Box

This is where the magic happens and the customization occurs. You can use simple HTML to fill this page and really have it stand out from your competition. Important: javascript is not supported, so stick with plain old HTML for best results.

There is also a good deal of helpful conversations which can enhance your troubleshooting within the “Discussions”  box of the FBML Page if you get stuck.  Coca-Cola and Gap both offer a great example of a customized FBML Page if you are looking for a few creative ideas.

Now, you should have your customized look in the newly named box … but you are not done yet! If your newly created page is really important for your brand (timely promotion, special savings or just an all around improvement from your wall) set this new box as your default location that users will arrive on when they visit your site. You can accomplish this by simply editing your “Wall Settings”. Select your new box in the “Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else:” drop down tab.

Default Boxes

So there you go! With these simple steps, hopefully you can step up the presence of your Facebook Page and differentiate yourself from your competitors!