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.


  1. says

    I think this is a great move for Facebook’s end for more effective targeting and more detailed information about the site’s users without compromising privacy.

    Meanwhile, I do feel with the ‘share’ option, end users will be more inclined to use and share with their network.


  2. says

    When you first like the button your given the option to share it to your profile.

    Additionally, you can add Open Graph tags to your page and then when you a user Likes something(say a movie) it goes to their favorite movies section. You can also update the stream of whoever Liked your page with new content using og tags.

    Still wrapping my head around everything.

  3. says

    Geat article Danny,
    Have to say I’m a bit disappointed with how “ike” appears in the teamline – I can’t see that really prompoting and helpiing virally spread the message – share is much more powerful for this.

    To me the like button is much more for the benefit of Facebook – feeding their database which advertisers etc are clammering for.

    Interesting comment about from Miguel though – what he says seems to open a few more doors and perhaps make like more powerful


  4. says

    I added the Like button plugin and the Digg-Digg plugin to my site, and again appreciate you mentioning them.

    I’ve noticed, though, in doing a Page Speed test that my HTTP requests have gone up by a huge amount, with the analyzer “thinking” that I have 16 external stylesheets (I also use Thesis, so the count is only 3). Here is what one such, listed as http://static.ak.fbsdn.net/rsrs.php/zBN75/hash/215pb0fx.css in the analysis:

    Server Apache/1.3.41.fb2
    Last-Modified Sat, 01 Jan 2000 00:00:00 GMT
    X-Cnection close
    Content-Type text/css; charset=utf-8
    Content-Encoding gzip
    Content-Length 1933
    Vary Accept-Encoding
    Cache-Control public, max-age=31210742
    Expires Tue, 19 Apr 2011 19:15:32 GMT
    Date Fri, 23 Apr 2010 13:36:30 GMT
    Request Headersview source
    Host static.ak.fbcdn.net
    User-Agent Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100413 Firefox/3.6.4 GTB7.0
    Accept text/css,*/*;q=0.1
    Accept-Language en-us,en;q=0.5
    Accept-Encoding gzip,deflate
    Accept-Charset ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
    Keep-Alive 115
    Connection keep-alive
    Referer http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.keenerliving.com%2Flife-as-a-challenge&layout=standard&show-faces=true&width=450&action=like&font=arial&colorscheme=light

    Based on this fact alone, I may give the Like Button plugin up. I do not know if using the XFBML method would overcome this or not. Given that excess HTTP requests are probably the biggest enemy of speedy pages, I now have some misgivings about the Like Plugin.

  5. says

    I think the like button has more power to viralise. Why? The brand can pre-set the thumbnail, it´s quicker and easier for the user, and the experience of seeing your friends face flash up on the brand page is more powerful than viewing the social proof on the FB site. If you´re the first of your social set to like the content, then the experience is not so compelling. But revisit a page (when you failed to logout of FB) during another sitting from same browser when your social set has also liked it and boom, all your mates are visible on the brands´ page. You get the social proof hit right there, sans pop up fuss of the share experience.

    Many of the early examples out there are using just the iframe version which lacks the potency of hardcoded XFBML setup. It´s upto the devs to implement it the best way.

  6. says

    Perhaps it depends on how that Like button has been configured Danny. I responded to a tweet (from someone I admire a bit, but don’t really know) asking people to test his Like button. I did so (I’m so obedient lol) and clicking it took me to his facebook page. I noticed just now that he’s deleted his request for people to “test” his Like button for him the sneaky so-an-so 😀

  7. says

    Share button has a richer experience for a user because you get thumbs and you can add your own comments therefore pulling extra attention to it for your friends. I’ve see some boring links on my feed, eventual the were boring, but at first with the comment of my friend who posted it made me wanna watch it.
    What not all users know is that Like’s are all organized on your FB, so it’s sort sort of a Digg thing, but at this moment implementing Like and Share will just add another distraction point for the users. Do i like it? Ya.. But do i wanna share it with my friends? Ya.. So what to use?
    By placing only the share button you simplify the experience.

  8. says

    No offence mate, but I am a lil bit more confused about the like buttons and fshare buttons after reading your article 😉
    I am going to install like buttons anyway. Will see :-)

  9. says

    I think the power of “Like” has yet to be seen, as we’re still in the early phases of adoption. More and more sites are moving away from 5 star ratings to simply “Like” or “Dislike.” YouTube, for example.

    Certainly, the creation of the off-site “Like” button is a feather in Facebook’s cap. In doing so, they’ve begun building a database of “Liked” urls that could easily be used to power a social search engine. In contrast to Google Search that uses backlinks (amongst other factors) to determine a webpage’s worth, Facebook has essentially developed their own social web scoring algorithm. The next logical step is for Facebook to introduce “Social Search.”

    This puts Google at a disadvantage. In order to fully evaluate a webpage’s worth, they really need access to this social data. In order to achieve this, Google needs more skin in the social networking game. After the lackluster response to Google Buzz, my guess is that this will happen via acquisition of one of the larger social networks.

    Thinking longer-term, if the social networks do indeed become the focal point for Search, then their stock just went up significantly.

  10. Bill says

    I have also done some limited testing and I’m not seeing any ‘I Like’ items (other than fan pages) appearing in a distributed News Feed.

    Given that we primarily use these for distribution, if this is true then the ‘I Likes’ value is a fraction on the ‘Share’ value.

    Has anyone seen an instance where ‘I Like’ activity was actually from a 3rd party site was actually distributed across a FB user’s news feed?

  11. says

    Me i am just a learning, so i am going to install both of them and see what happens thank you for your post

  12. says

    I’ve already use facebook Like button into my page GoenduL.Netbut, I have a little trouble about the width size that is not matching with my blog post. Can I use it with simple thumbs button only?

  13. Dave says

    I’m late to the party, but here’s what I’m gathering:
    – “Share” works great for news, headlines, articles, announcements, and most types of content within a site
    – “Like” makes sense for an entire brand: a website, a movie, a musician.

    I would share an article from your site; I would like your entire site. I would share the announcement that Band X’s CD just came out, but I would like Band X.

    The confusing part is that the format is flexible enough that you can sort of use both for content or brands. Also, Facebook would prefer if we all used “Like” for everything, because then every page on our sites runs JavaScript from the Facebook servers, which basically gives them access to all the data that Google Analytics gets with the same method…except Google Analytics defines privacy for that data, and I don’t think Facebook does.

  14. rianazmi says

    I’m wondering whether you can help me with this. I “Like” a fan page a few months ago. Suddenly, on Oct 3, 2010 I found out that the fan page was missing “Like”, “Comment” and “Share” buttons. Even my former comments and postings on that fan page went missing. Why? And how can I fix this?


  15. Timothy says

    I’m having trouble getting the Facebook Share button to show up in IE (version 8). So far, it just displays as a text link. The site I’m trying to put it in is a Drupal site.

    Can you please post the code you used to place your Facebook share button on this site? Viewing the source of this page doesn’t seem to work because I think Facebook alters the original code to place their button.

  16. says

    I also think having both has it’s advantages. I like the fact that share you can choose your thumbnail or choose not to put one at all.

  17. says

    In theory the Like button is a great idea. However, one of the main problems with it, as an earlier commenter pointed out, is the number of HTTP requests it requires (19 by my count). Many of these requests are for images, many of which are not even displayed. This breaks one of the golden rules of page optimisation which is not to serve resources which aren’t used. The Javascript code is also quited bloated. These inefficiencies mean that a Like button considerably slows down any page it is added to. It’s a pity that those who developed the Like button didn’t pay more attention to performance issues.

  18. says

    I agree with Chris Thompson that it does slow down the web page. I am adding it to the rebrand of one of my sites but just a bit worried that it will look a bit lame with a very low number of people liking it. Would be good to have the option to remove the counter until a website is established!

  19. Susanna Miles - K.i.s.s Wedding Ideas says

    Thanks SO much for writing this article – and even more thanks for making sure it’s actually findable in the SE’s.

    You know what I’d like next – and article on all of the different plugins that you can use by facebook. From the like button, to comments, to recommendations and more.


  20. says

    good reading here and thanks for helpful information, i needed to add twitter and facebook shares + fb like button at my home page :)

    Thank you very much for all the info

  21. says

    Well as of a day or two the like button now replicates pretty much all of the share’s functionality : thumbnail, excerpt, comments. Only thing missing is the ability to include a message with your link

  22. says

    Danny, might wanna check your share buttons. Further to this http://bit.ly/ebYSrX it seems FB are turning off shares. I noticed on my own site, started looking around and note that (for me anyway) your share buttons are not working as intended anymore either.

  23. Tal says

    Thank’s for the post, but it’s still unclear which to use. I agree that social networking presents will be a factor in the future, but it has to improve considerably before it can be implemented. As with all things SEO we’ll just have to second guess.

  24. says

    Hey, do you know if Facebook will remove fshare option?? :S
    I really like share better!
    Please respond, thank you.

  25. Cenk Oz says

    Hey! Great article. But in need of an update as the “Like” button has changed quite a bit. It is true that “Like” button has all the features of the share button now, but in the past, when you clicked on a like button, the link would have been shared on your wall and the news feed. Now, if you don’t add a comment, it only shows on your wall, not on the news feed which makes it lose its main purpose. Liking is not sharing anymore!

  26. Andy says

    Great insight i have had lot of trouble with the Facebook plucking a random image from the website that unrelated when sharing pages!

  27. Adrian says

    Can like button be customized? For example to change it to a link? I’ve search on google but i found nothing.