Even if you haven’t implemented it on your website, you’ve probably heard of Facebook’s Open Graph protocol. If not, here’s a brief description from the folks who built it:
The Open Graph protocol enables you to integrate your pages into the social graph. These pages gain the functionality of other graph objects including profile links and stream updates for connected users.
Basically, the Open Graph is Facebook’s very ambitious (and very successful) attempt at linking Facebook to the entire web. In many ways, this is a direct challenge to Google, since the Open Graph is swiftly allowing Facebook to create a massive social search engine.
Open Graph works by transforming a webpage into a dynamic “object” on the social graph. These pages (or objects) can then be “liked” just as we would like a Facebook page.
To make this possible, two components are needed. First, unique meta tags must be added to the markup of a website in order to ensure maximum compatibility. Once this metadata is added, your website can communicate through the Open Graph and Facebook can display the necessary information and images to users.
The second component that makes Open Graph work is the “Like” button. This button is a very familiar sight for the 800 active Facebook users, who are already well aware of the implications of “liking” something on Facebook. For it to start popping up on the web was a natural extension of that concept.
So, in a nutshell, that is how the Open Graph protocol works to bridge the gap between what we do on Facebook’s website and what we do on the rest of the web.
If you’re really interested in learning much more about Open Graph, I highly recommend the following resources:
- Facebook Documentation on Open Graph Protocol
- Open Graph Protocol Website
- Open Graph Protocol on Wikipedia
In later posts, I will continue to discuss Open Graph, with a focus on how you can optimize it for social media success. Just as there are countless tips and tricks for optimizing the metadata of a website for Search Engine Optimization purposes, the same can be said about Open Graph.