Facebook recommendations still far from personalized
Let’s face it (pun intended), the launch of Facebook’s Open Graph put new buzz into the field of content recommendations and personalization. When the social networking giant offers up free tools that seemingly will increase traffic, website operators have to take notice. Within days, thousands of sites had deployed elements of the Facebook Platform, whether just adding the new Like buttons or presenting Network Activity or Recommendations modules intended to showcase what your friends recommend. (We’re even testing some of it on DailyMe.com.)
It’s difficult to write about these developments here on the Newstogram blog and not come off as defensive, since we provide technology that some might consider directly competitive. But we’ll offer our opinion and hope that you’ll share yours as well. Let’s make this a dialogue.
The good news out of the Facebook announcements is that sites are paying more attention to the quality and relevance of content recommendations and studying how they affect traffic and user engagement. Some are carving out a significant piece of real estate on their pages to give Facebook a test, just as others are testing Newstogram-powered recommendations.
In addition, Facebook’s use of the term “personalized” to describe its Recommendations plug-in gave added credence to an already growing interest in creating individualized experiences for users.
We just hope that sites don’t stop at deploying a Facebook widget and believe they’re giving their users the best personalized experience or are achieving the most engagement. We believe other approaches – mostly our own platform – are better suited to news content and similar media. And we’d love to work with some sites to put ours head-to-head with a Facebook module.
The biggest drawback to Facebook seems to be that it’s dependent on users clicking the “Like” or “Recommend” button on stories. We’ve been looking at Facebook widgets on a few of the large news sites, such as ABCNews.com, Time.com, CNN.com, and WashingtonPost.com. Even with up to 700 Facebook “friends” spanning all ages among our different accounts, we have few (or none) who are active recommenders of news stories. On a few of the sites, the only friends recommending stories are employees of the site, and even they aren’t that active. The result is a module not unlike a Digg or Most Popular list.
We’d like to hear from you. What do you think of Facebook implementations on news sites? Do you expect to be more active in recommending news content? Would you prefer a platform that personalizes news for you without any action on your part?