Facebook Application Development for Dummies – Stay N Alive

Counting "Real" Likes on any URL – Evaluating the Salt Lake City vs. Fresno Campaign

Like ButtonIn the last week I saw one of the most amazing campaigns of unity amongst 2 communities, Salt Lake City, Utah, where I live and where I asked for your help, and Fresno, California. Both cities were entered into Walmart’s “Fighting Hunger Together” campaign in a race to get the most “likes”. The prize? 1 million dollars donated to the Food Bank of the community with the most “likes”. $100,000 would be donated to each of the next 5 communities with the most “likes”.  Thanks to yours, and others’ help, both Salt Lake City and Fresno seemed to take off the most.  Both cities launched media blitzes, a telethon of sorts, that telethon lasting more than 3 days, begging viewers, listeners, and readers to like their communities in hopes to rally the individual community to earn their cool $1 million towards the hungry and homeless.  I don’t know of a TV or Radio station in Utah that wasn’t talking about this every 15 minutes or so.  Campaigns were even set up to help people set up their Facebook accounts, and then close them when the campaign was done!  It was a Christmas Miracle to see both communities fighting so hard to win, Fresno outranking Salt Lake City by around 200,000 votes at one point, but Salt Lake City sprinting to the finish, obliterating the competition.  In the end, Salt Lake City rallied, soliciting over 5 million votes, completely overshadowing Fresno at second place by over 1 million votes.  The third place city didn’t even eclipse 500,000 likes.

The real story though is how each city grew their “likes”.  Walmart was counting “likes” by the total on the like button embedded in the website.  You can see that still on my previous article soliciting your help (click the link), something any website can embed using Facebook Social Plugins (I also included the HTML so others could embed it on their sites).  The “like buttons” tally votes by the number of shares of the URL, followed by the total number of comments on each share.  It’s hardly a count of the total number of people that actually liked the post, and some would argue, not a fair tally.  Fresno was even calling foul, perhaps out of jealousy, that Salt Lake City was using tactics such as creating Fake profiles, sharing the page thousands of times, and encouraging others to click through and like each share on the Fake profile.  Of course, Fresno was doing the same.  It was rather ironic that in the end Salt Lake’s total “likes” exceeded the total population of Utah as a whole!  I’m sure it could be possible, especially considering bloggers like myself were sharing outside of Utah to solicite votes, but hardly believable.  Of course, Fresno was in the same boat.

There is a way however, for anybody to get the “real” tally of votes for a URL with Facebook Graph API.  It turns out with Graph API you can pass a URL to it to get the ID and additional information about that URL.  So, without further adieu, here are the actual “like” counts for both Salt Lake City and Fresno:

Salt Lake City (click the link to see the Graph API response): 136,820 total likes (unique people)

Fresno (click the link to see the Graph API response): 89,578 total likes (unique people)

So, it would appear that, no matter how you “like” it, Salt Lake City still won the competition, fair and square.  In one of the most amazing feats of unity around such an amazing cause, I’m proud of my city because of this.  Salt Lake City gets social media.  We get how to rally, and we get how to work with each other to help out the homeless.  As a result, Utah’s Food Bank believes it can turn that 1 million dollars into 7 million dollars with the programs it has in place.  The 4th place city, Ogden, Utah will also get $100,000 – Utah Food Bank has pledged that the $100,000 from Ogden, along with the $1 million will get shared across the entire state of Utah, multiplied by 7 in helping the poor and needy.  Homeless from all over the nation actually flock to Utah because of our Homeless programs.  THANK YOU for your help.  I know many of you voted, and I’m sincerely appreciative for this.

If you ever need to tally the “real” likes for an Open Graph URL that uses the “like box” Social Plugin, use the technique I mentioned above – simply pass https://graph.facebook.com/http://pathtoyoursite.com to your browser and you’ll get the likes for your site.


If you want tips like just like this one, be sure to pre-order my next book, “Facebook Application Development for Dummies”.  Any “dummy” can understand cool stuff like this!

Help Me Pick the Picture for My Next Book

My sister-in-law, a few months back, took these amazing pictures of me to use on Facebook, Twitter, and also for my next book, Facebook Application Development for Dummies.  Her name is Megan Stay, and she’s really good if you want some great portraits or headshot photos taken.  She travels as well.  Be sure to check out her site at MegRuth.com.

I need to pick one of these for my next book.  I’m a horrible judge of how I look – I figure I’d let you be the judge.  Which picture should I use in my next book?  Please post your favorite in the comments and I’ll choose the one that has the most comments.  Oh, and don’t forget to check out my Sis-in-law’s site!:















Facebook Kills Connect, Makes App Creation Easier, Simpler

As I’ve been writing Facebook Application Development for Dummies (now available on Amazon for pre-order!), there has been one thing I have been noticing: Despite all the new focus on Facebook’s Graph API, Facebook has still had a lot of conflicting focus on their old, more complicated, Connect APIs, making it a fun thing to try and explain in a Dummies book.  That confusion was evident especially in the application creation screens, where Facebook had page after page of options to fill out that they were no longer focusing on, “Widgets” to configure (which Facebook doesn’t even link to any more), and odd terminology that just doesn’t make sense any more.  Add to that the fact that, just announced, Facebook is killing the FBML versions of apps in favor of the iframe (and FBML itself in favor of Social Plugins), a lot of stuff just didn’t make sense in their app creation process any more.

Some time recently it appears Facebook finally fixed that.  Now Facebook has just 5 categories to fill out when creating your application or Facebook-integrated website, and there are no confusing terms such as “Connect”, or “Widgets”, or “Canvas”.  Facebook is focusing on 5 things: “About”, “Website”, “Facebook Integration”, “Mobile”, and “Advanced”.  I think from the titles of the sections these things are obvious, and it also shows that Facebook is putting an increased focus on external use of their applications on websites and mobile and less on Facebook itself.  We also see this with the removal of custom tabs on personal profiles (they will still be available for your business Page, have no fear!).  In addition, Facebook has removed the long Application key, and is now putting focus on just the Application ID and Application Secret – this is a move they have been pushing towards since the launch of Graph API at their F8 developers conference earlier in the year.

The new Facebook Application Screen is simpler and easier than the old

In addition, Facebook has added 3 experimental new features you can turn on, to focus more on their new OAuth 2.0 authentication process.  One of my biggest frustrations in trying to document all of this in my book has been the lack of consistency.  Getting graph API to handle authentication on a Facebook.com-hosted app in the past has been a horrendous experience, pretty much forcing developers back to the old way of authorization.  Now it should be easier for developers to fully focus on the new Graph API methods, both in and out of Facebook.  It is completely clear that Graph API is the future, and Social Plugins are replacing FBML (unfortunately for my second book).

Facebook also added 3 new features, making OAuth 2.0 easier to manage on Canvas pages.

While frustrating as I try to adapt my book, these changes are welcome, and should make creation and configuration of apps much easier for developers in the future.  Especially with the future removal of the need to configure FBML or iFrame, along with Profile tabs, setting up an application should be a piece of cake for both novices and experienced developers alike.  I’m sure it also makes the support process for Facebook a lot easier as well.

I hope other app platforms can take Facebook’s lead on their API.  Out of all of them, Facebook’s new focus is dirt simple and easy for the most novice of programmers to learn.

Are you working on a Facebook app?  How does this affect your development on Facebook platform?

Want Your Business in a Dummies Book?

I’m looking for concrete examples of businesses, large and small, that have seen firm success by integrating Facebook either as an application, a Page, or on their own website via Facebook Connect or Facebook Graph API.  If you have analytics and statistics to back up your claim, I’d like to get quotes from you on how Facebook’s API has helped your business.  The best ones I’ll be including in Facebook Application Development for Dummies.

This is a great opportunity for your business or website, as your brand will be promoted, pushed, and shared with an audience of thousands (wouldn’t it be cool if it were millions?) of readers worldwide, in a brand that is recognized in bookstores everywhere.  So if you, or someone you know has a great story to tell about how the Facebook API has helped your business, I’d like to share those case studies with my readers.  The best ones I’d like to also try and share on this blog if you’re okay with it.  Feel free to share them in the comments if you want everyone to see, or send them to jesse@staynalive.com.

Oh, and and not to show preference, but if anyone has any good contacts at Digg – I really want to see if their integration of Facebook Connect has helped.  I think that would be a great example to share – send them my way if you think they might be interested.

This book is a group effort – I hope to include you in many more opportunities like this, so keep reading and subscribing!

I’m a Dummy! My Next, and Third Book

It’s been 2 years since the release of my second book, FBML Essentials, and everyone keeps asking me when I’m going to write my next.  I admit I’m a little addicted – it’s why I write on this blog.  I hated writing for others in High School and College, but since I started writing for myself I have really gained a sincere appreciation for writing.  Once I wrote my first book, I’m on Facebook–Now What??? with Jason Alba, I was addicted.  I love writing!  That’s why I’m proud to announce that I have signed an agreement with Wiley to write Facebook Application Development For Dummies.

What will it be about?  To tell you the truth, I’m still working that out.  My thought is to keep this one extremely simple.  I want it to be so simple even marketers and brand managers can learn at least a few ways to integrate Facebook Connect on their own websites, or find ways to integrate their brand straight into Facebook.  I’d like to hear from you though – what would you like to learn about Facebook Application Development?  What would you like to learn about the Facebook Platform?

I’m honored to be working with Wiley in this effort.  They are my biggest publisher yet, and from my dealings with them thus far they are going to be a joy to work with.  My wife has agreed to not see me for the next 6-9 months (I love you honey!), and I’m still keeping my day job and running SocialToo.  Yes, I’m crazy.  I think in the end though, based on my interactions with each of you, we need a completely simple instruction on how to get started with the Facebook Platform and what it means for developers and brands.  My hope is that with the time I spend on this book I might be able to benefit each of you in getting started with this incredible platform.

Facebook Application Development For Dummies will go to print some time at the end of this year, and, having learned from my last 2 books, you can bet this book will be very up to date and will have ways of remaining up to date long from its publish date.  Tell me what you want it to include!

I’ll be at Facebook’s F8 developers conference tomorrow (I’ll be one of the only guys with a FriendFeed T-Shirt on) – come look for me!  The first 4 people to mention this post to me at the conference get a free, signed copy of FBML Essentials.

In the meantime, be sure to become a fan of FBML Essentials and I’m on Facebook–Now What??? on Facebook, subscribe to this blog, and I’ll be sure you get updated when we have a home for my new book.