Facebook Like Button Vs. Facebook Share: Why I’m Keeping Both

If you were under a rock yesterday, Facebook announced new Facebook Like buttons that, according to founder Mark Zuckerberg, will sprout on a billion pages by, well, now. But what about all those Facebook Share buttons that we were told to put on all our pages. Pull them down? Keep them up? So far, it looks like you want them both.

Here’s a look at how the buttons work on my own blog, which you can find at the bottom of this page:

Like Versus Share

At the top is the new Facebook Like button, which I added using this WordPress plugin. It’s pretty rudamentary, but it’s something — especially given that WordPress apparently didn’t get a lot of Facebook love in yesterday’s rollout.

At the bottom is the “old” Facebook Share button, which I’ve enabled using a plug-in called Digg Digg. That plug-in also lets me create buttons for Google Buzz and Twitter, which are on either side of the Facebook button.

Do I still need the Share button? To help decide, I both Liked and Shared something.

For the item that I shared, I got the option to add a custom note and select a thumbnail before sharing:

Share button

For the item I liked, I got none of that. It was far faster to do than sharing. But Liking the item just caused the Like button to show my image below it, at least on the page itself:

Like Button On Story

What happened on Facebook? Here’s how they both look on my personal wall:

Facebook Like Vs. Share

You can see the item that I shared looks great. It has my custom note. The thumbnail makes it stand out. In contrast, the item that I liked feels like an afterthought.

As a marketer, that’s a big issue. From what I can tell, from a visibility standpoint, you’d rather have people Share items than Like them.

Then again, visibility is far more than what happens on your personal wall. As a marketer, you really want someone to Share an item so that it flows from that person out to their friends, appearing in their News Feed — the list of items that you see when you’re logged into Facebook or go back to the Facebook home page after being logged in.

I don’t have a good answer yet on what happens with Liked items. In one specific and fast test with my technical director at Search Engine Land, Michelle Robbins, she could see my shared item in her own news feed but not the item that I liked. In my own news feed — which is a bad test of what others see — it was nevertheless the same. I could see my shared item but not my liked item.

The one difference was for Liked “fan pages.” I use the quotes, because I’m not even sure if there’s still called Fan Pages with all the changes. These are pages that people (like myself, my fan page is here) or companies (like Search Engine Land, which has a page here) create that act like personal profiles but don’t require approval for anyone to follow.

If you like a fan page, that seems to show up in news feeds of your friends. Here’s an example from my own news feed, of someone who Liked some pages, causing me to be informed (I’ve deleted their name):

Likes In News Feed

Many sites already had installed boxes asking people to become a fan, as I have over on the right hand side of pages on Daggle or that we have on Search Engine Land, like this:

Facebook Fan Box, Er, Like Box

Here’s something I found odd. If you’re already a fan, the only way you know this is that the Like button gets darker:

Activated Facebook Like Button

That’s not really intuitive that you’re already a fan. So someone might click on that — and if they do, bummer — they’re dropped from the fan page. Or unliked. Or whatever, it’s dumb.

Meanwhile, there’s supposed to be all these stats that those who put up Like buttons are going to get. Or something like that. I need to do some more digging. What I know so far is that after installing a Like button for Daggle, there was nothing that gave me stats on Facebook. Just putting up that button created nothing to give me ownership of stats there.

With Search Engine Land, I’ve already had stats on Likes in the past — so those will continue. But I suspect I’m only seeing Likes for the fan page, not for individual items.

More later — and if you know more, please share!

Postscript: Adam Sherk in the comments below points to a great article, With the Open Graph Protocol, Any URL Can Be Treated Just Like a Facebook Page, from Inside Facebook. The Like button can also be implemented as an XFBML tag that allows you to add a comment (but not a thumbnail), it sees.

That comment is really necessary if you want the story published as a “full story” in a news feed, rather than a single line, the story says. I’m not sure what a “full” story means, however — but I assume it makes things look more Share-like.

As for stats, if you add some meta tags to your pages, you can assign them to an existing Facebook application you manage and get Fan-page like stats. I’m going to experiment with this — sounds like a nice WordPress plug-in that inserts that information side-wide would be useful. Actually, any plug-in that allow you to insert custom meta tags should do the job.