Few weeks ago, Facebook introduced the Open Graph initiative, a major step to make the web a lot smarter with semantic, by connecting sites together with more information than hyperlinks. To participate with your own site, add few tags on every page, and you are in business! From there, there is no limits to widespread your own Open Graph, your page can be referenced on other sites with a name, image, URL and additional information like a physical Location, an address or coordinates.
At launch, Yelp embraced the initiative to promote its pages, and now WCities, Where, and Foursquare have already updated their Places page. On these sites, you can “Like” a place or post information in your Facebook stream with the help of the Facebook widgets.
How to participate in the Open Graph
To bring a web page into the Open Graph ecosystem, you must include mandatory meta information with the following Open Graph tag:
og:title - The title of your object as it should appear within the graph, e.g., "Market Bar".
og:type - The type of your object, e.g., "restaurant". Depending on the type you specify, other properties may also be required.
og:image - An image URL which should represent your object within the graph.
og:url - The canonical URL of your object that will be used as its permanent ID within the graph.
Adding a location with coordinates is optional but possible
og:latitude - e.g., "37.795466".
og:longitude - e.g., "-122.393779"
For an address, you can include the following tags
og:street-address - e.g., "One Ferry Building"
og:locality - e.g, "San Francisco"
og:region - e.g., "CA"
og:postal-code e.g., "94111"
og:country-name - e.g., "USA"
For example, a Market Bar page served by WCities may have the following information
<meta property="og:title" content="Market Bar" />
<meta property="og:type" content"restaurant" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://content.wcities.com/images/cityrecords/low_resolution/323189.jpg" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://wcities.com/san-francisco/restaurants/poi-marketbar-323189.html" />
<meta property="og:latitude" content="37.795466" />
<meta property="og:longitude" content="-122.393779" />
<meta property="og:street-address" content="1 Ferry Building" />
<meta property="og:locality" content="San Francisco" />
<meta property="og:region" content="CA" />
<meta property="og:postal-code" content="94111" />
<meta property="og:country-name" content="USA" />
If you need to test your page implementation of the Open Graph tags, try the following link with your page URL: http://www.opengraph.in/
At this point, your page can be consumed and linked back by any site. Interestingly Facebook recommends web sites to participate in the Open Graph but does not implement it yet on its web pages. As of today, the only access to Facebook Open Graph is thru the API.
Social Graph and Social Plugins
Facebook manages a “Social” Graph, a site that connects people and interests altogether. The more sites that embrace the Open Graph, the more people will be able to share on Facebook. Like a song on Pandora, a movie on imdb, Places are important in the overall social experience and no wonder why many companies have added the meta tags in their pages.
At launch, Facebook provided a series of social plugins or widgets. Their role is to simplify the consumption of any Open Graph web pages by its platform, one of them being the famous “Like” button. Every time a Facebook user clicks on the link, Facebook updates its own counter for that page. In other words, Facebook crowd source the index of the web, an invaluable information to provide tailored search results back to its users.
Other Facebook plugins include people recommendations for that page or facepile gallery. In short, the Facebook plugins let you add a Social dimension to your site in a snap while feeding the platform back with information.
What is Your Graph
Every company manages its own graph of information, with public and private information. An airline for instance offers flights between destinations using planes. Destinations, Flights and Planes are public knowledge that could be accessible thru the airline Open Graph. Coupled with a social graph, users could comment on a flight and find which friends are on it. So every company should start thinking about its own and very unique Graph.
Spread Your Graph with Plugins
Facebook took the lead in the Open Graph by driving a major initiative beyond its own social graph. Plugins have become essential to widespread the graph beyond the web and mobile properties.
So it is a matter of time before we see new plugins show up to make consumption of all sorts of Graph a lot easier.
What will be yours?