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Industry Changes You Should Follow- Weekly Recap

This was a busy week for social media and social commerce. Below is a summary of news and trends to keep you informed of the evolving changes in the industry.

Facebook Announcement Summary

At Facebook's F8 event this week, Facebook announced its new, innovative approaches to socializing the web. Below is an outline of the announcements from Facebook, highlighting the benefits to your business and inclusive of how they integrate with the Viewpoints Technology Platform. If you want to read the full details, check out the Facebook developers blog.

Social Plugin– Facebook announced social plugins, formerly known as widgets. Perhaps most significant among them is the “Like” button. The “Like” concept replaces the previous “Fan” concept on Facebook, and is a great opportunity for brands as it expands the number of things a user can “Like” – your company, content on your site and more. When you “Like” something, Facebook adds that object to your profile where the user’s friends can see it, and the web application that a user “Likes” can now send items to that user’s Facebook Newsfeed.  The “Like” button lets websites and applications provide a much more personalized user experience with limited technical development.

According to Facebook, with the Like button in place, you can leverage the other Facebook social plugins to personalize your site and drive incremental traffic and engagement.
•    The Activity Feed plugin shows users what their friends have liked on your site.
•    The Recommendations plugin gives content suggestions from your site.
•    The Facepile plugin shows profile pictures of the user's friends who have already signed up for your site.

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Open Graph Protocol & API- Facebook also announced it’s strategy to support the Open Graph protocol. The Open Graph protocol is an open protocol, so as websites mark-up their pages, other services will be able to use this information as well.  According to Facebook, the Open Graph will make it easier for developers – including Viewpoints – to integrate with Facebook and share bi-directional information.

Facebook Improved Storing and Sharing of Data
Sites will now be allowed to store any data received from Facebook – you are no longer required to delete it after 24 hours. Other providers such as Google, Yahoo! and Twitter already enable this access, so now your business can capture user data no matter which provider a user chooses. When users connect with any provider from your site, you can receive their ID, name, photo, email address and other profile information, enabling you to create a rich and permanent account in your system.

Through their new set of APIs, Facebook has also improved the “connect” process. Users can give your site all the necessary permissions in a single step. This process is in line with the other providers, making one-step permission common across all providers now.  Also, in this single step, users agree to your site’s terms of use. This means that sites no longer need to take a user through a separate ‘terms of use” step and checkbox. 

How does this impact the Viewpoints Platform?
Viewpoints is currently assessing the implementation of the “Like” widget across the technology platform. We view the “Like” plugin as a natural fit with our current voting capabilities (such as the ability to indicate whether a review was Helpful, or vote an Idea up or down) and anticipate enhancing our voting features with the plugin.  For example, customers could let their Facebook network know that they like your product or review simply by clicking the “Like” button next to it.

With the Open Graph, we could then publish other updates related to that product to those people’s activity streams, like price updates or comments related to that review.

As part of these changes, Facebook promises access to more analytics, which will help us better understand how customers interact with your community, and use this data to further improve their experience.

Viewpoints already integrates with Facebook to allow users to register or sign in with their Facebook or other 3rd party credentials. Likewise, our Publisher Share feature lets users easily share their reviews with their Facebook friends. We have active plans to integrate in the new Facebook solutions over the coming months to ensure your social commerce maximizes the full potential of the social web.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on related product features and enhancements over the coming weeks, but feel free to contact us in the meantime with any questions. We think this is an exciting time for brands, who have opportunities to connect with their customers like never before and we look forward to offering even more innovations to help you make the most of these opportunities. 

Google Product Reviews Program

This week, Google announced the Google Product Reviews Program. It is based on three core components all focused on driving more exposure for customer reviews.

  1.  Full Length Reviews and Ratings can now be added to the Google Product Search results.
  2.  Brands & merchants can now more formally integrate their review/ratings content as web snippets within Google’s natural search results.  
  3. Brands will now be able to display their online product reviews and ratings in their AdWords Programs.

The Viewpoints platform has been working with Google in their beta program on items #1 and #2 above since 2009. To see it in action, click here for item #1.  To see item #2 in action, see below:

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We are continuing conversations with Google to ensure we offer the most cutting edge review solutions and syndication opportunities for all of our technology partners.

We hope this overview helps you stay informed on the industry happenings.