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Date: June 20th, 2012
Category: social media

Facebook Takes Action, Introduces Action Links to the Open Graph

In September 2011 at its f8 Developer Conference, Facebook introduced the social world to frictionless sharing and Action Verbs. With the rollout of its Open Graph, the 900 million strong social network declared that the future of engagement would be driven by both implicit and explicit actions. Explicit actions require the user to click a button such as “Like,” “Share,” “Recommend,” or “Comment.” Implicit actions on the other hand only require that the user run an app designed using the Open Graph platform where updates (or Action Verbs) are sent to the timeline automagically depending on what the app is designed to do.

But, this frictionless experience is not without its friction.

As Open Graph apps such as Washington Posts’ Social Reader or Spotify send updates into user Newsfeeds, such as “Brian Solis is reading…” or “…is listening to…,” what happens next is where friction is at risk of sparking. As I warned in earlier this year developers who don’t think through the end-to-end user experience or the “click to action” from engagement to the Newsfeed to the desired social effect may not only lose momentum, they may reverse adoption.

The goal of an Open Graph strategy is not to just send an interesting Action Verb into the timeline to entice a click, it must unlock a microcosm of fellowship. The Action Verb is just the hook, but it is what unfolds next that influences whether or not a new user installs the app and continues to use it as part of their everyday Facebook routine. Indeed, the Open Graph is an open invitation to creativity and innovation. At the same time, it’s also an opportunity to introduce ways to expand relevant shares and app-generated engagement from social graph to social graph.

Automatic status updates using Action Verbs are just the beginning. Now Facebook is introducing Action Links. If Action Verbs are designed to trigger the social effect, Action Links are intended to drive intended outcomes or “clicks to action.”

Here we see a couple of difference examples where an automatic update now included a link at the bottom for friends to take action. In the Fab example, the Action Verb is “faved” and the Action Link lets friends “Fave this Product.”

Like Action Verbs, no pun intended, the success of Action Links is dependent on the experience as designed by your UX or dev team. The click must, in the very least do one or more of the following…

1. Serve a purpose

2. Offer entertainment

3. Deliver engagement

4. Contribute to self expression or personal branding

5. Enable commerce

Don’t rule out F-commerce just yet. 8thBridge developed an entire platform on Facebook’s Open Graph that demonstrates what’s possible with Action Verbs and Action Links. In the example below, you see the introduction of three new buttons, “I Want,” “Love,” and “Own” on the TOMS e-commerce site. Upon the click, an Action Verb update is sent to the user’s Facebook Newsfeed expressing the sentiment tied to each button. At the bottom of the update, friends are invited to add the item into their own bag trying social and e-commerce together through peer-to-peer influence.

8thBridge also visualizes how Action Verbs and Action Links tie into a user-centric social commerce ecosystem where Facebook services as the epicenter for personal experiences and engagement.

As AllFacebook shared, the 8thBridge Graphite launch included several ecommerce partners that connect people, experiences and brands through what I refer to as the A.R.T. of engagement (Actions, Reactions and Transactions). While primary Action Verbs were based on Want, Own, and Love, other unique examples include:

Deb: I want, Ask a friend, I’m wearing

Guitar Center: Play

Hallmark: Tearing up, Smile, LOL

Nasty Gal: Neeed (yes, 3 “e’s”), Gimme, and Three hearts

Oscar de la Renta: Wore

Aside from the fact that GM abandoned Facebook advertising for the time being, it’s time to see Facebook as a vibrant and connected community, not as a stockade of eyeballs. The Open Graph opens the door to an entirely new egosystem of user-centered experiences that have yet to be fully defined or harnessed. And, that’s the point. Action Verbs and Action Links are only as meaningful as the outcomes and journeys they create.

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The End of Business as Usual is officially here…

Image Credit (edited): Shutterstock

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