Facebook Graph API – Post Versus Link
Over in the WordPress Support forums for WPBook, WPBook user TheCitizen was asking about the absence of “share” links on Wall Excerpts posted via WPBook. I responded that in my experience posts made via the API (by an App, rather than by the user directly) don’t get “share” links inside Facebook.
He pointed to Facebook Page Publish, a WordPress plugin which also cross-posts to Facebook (though it does not import comments). Posts made via this plugin do get a share link.
Digging in a bit, I realized that Facebook Page Publish uses the Link object in the Facebook Graph API, whereas WPBook and WPBook Lite both use a Post object.
What’s the difference? That’s what I’m trying to determine now.
Links are posted with these fields (ref):
The rest of the values “are taken from the metadata of the page URL given in the ‘link’ prarameter.
Posts are created with these fields (ref):
So Posts are more complex than Links, whereas Links rely on getting the Facebook metadata from the page returned by the link.
How does each appear, on the timeline and in the news feed?
Here’s the same link, posted twice, using the Facebook Graph API explorer – the first time (the lower box) is as a Link, the second time is as a Post:
That is how they look on the timeline – logging in as another FB user and looking at News Feed, I could not even see the Post type, only the Link type:
Though I’m certain that in the past I have seen items in the newsfeed which were posted as Posts. (Maybe it was that I’d just posted the same link as a link, so Facebook was hiding the second item as spam? I’ll retry with something different).
(Update: here’s what a Post type object looks like in the Newsfeed – the item for this blog post):
A few things to note:
- The nicer excerpt – “We are an interactive agency . . . ” was pulled from the page being linked to by Facebook themselves, not entered by me. In the case of WPBook or WPBook Lite posts, we want to provide the full excerpt, not have it pulled from the link destination.
- The image – again, this was pulled from the link destination. In the case of WPBook or WPBook lite posts, the image would be provided by the app (the featured image from the post) not grabbed from the destination link – but it looks the same in both.
- In the case of the link type, the “via the Graph API Explorer” is next to the poster’s name, but in the Post type it is down at the bottom above the action links
- The Link type gets a “share” action link, while the Post type only gets “Like” and Comment.”
Given all this, plus the fact that I found it hard to find the Post type in the newsfeed of an account I know follows me, I wonder if we shouldn’t switch to posting blog posts as the “Link” type.
The challenge is that the “link” type depends on the target blog having the right open graph metadata in place already (unless wpbook / wpbook lite try to actually provide that metadata).
When Facebook visits the link, it looks for Open Graph Metadata – which your blog’s theme may or may not provide.
Using the “Post” object allows WPBook / WPBook Lite to control the message being sent to Facebook more explicitly, rather than relying on metadata.
The part that worries me though is how frequently “Post” type objects get into News Feeds. Since Facebook controls the algorithm which decides what, out of the hundreds or thousands of possible posts in any given user’s feed, to show that user, I have no way of knowing whether object type (Post vs Link) has any impact.
Anyone have data on that to share?