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Facebook Open Graph Essentials for Retailers

Steve Susina • September 26, 2012


Facebook continues to be the behemoth in social commerce. Recently, we’ve talked about how retailers can take advantage of Facebook Connect and can enable a Facebook Shop. Facebook has since extended what retailers can do to make it easier to interact with shoppers in more relevant and timely ways with new capabilities with the Open Graph Protocol.


Open Graph Defined

The term “social graph” describes the network that any individual has on the social web.  Facebook uses it to describe their users and how those users interact with other users within their platform.  Accessing and taking advantage of this network is the real power of Facebook.  However, for retailers to take advantage of a user’s social graph, they must take some action with Facebook—namely enable their web properties to communicate and transmit information back and forth with Facebook. 

Facebook’s Open Graph is a transmission tool to get information into Facebook from a retailer’s website and vice versa.  Or in other words, Facebook’s Open Graph helps retailer’s web pages “talk” to Facebook.  Facebook originally opened up the Facebook social graph to third party websites with Facebook Connect, the Like button, Login and other capabilities, and recently extended the Open Graph with social actions created by third-party websites, enabling retailers to integrate even more deeply into the Facebook consumer experience. Retailers who aren’t already, should be taking advantage of these capabilities.


Social Actions

Social actions are any actions a user can take on an object within Facebook.  “Like” is the action most are familiar with.  Retailers can configure other social actions within Facebook, such as “Want”, “Purchased”, “Own”, or any other configurable action.  The action would be associated with an object within Facebook.  For instance, retailers could associate the action “Own” to a particular product or “Want” to a particular style.  Such social actions allow shoppers to indicate actions taken with a brand that are more specific and contextual to a user and the user’s social graph.  For instance, if a shopper indicates they “Want” a particular product, then the brand as well as the shopper’s social graph can act on that.  The brand may merchandise in a certain way to the shopper or someone in the shopper’s social graph may decide they want to purchase the product for that person as a gift. 



Why Facebook Open Graph Matters to Retailers

Facebook Open Graph clearly helps with connecting the brand to the consumer on Facebook.  In the past, we’ve highlighted a number of benefits through Open Graph from ease of site registration to greater ability for personalized onsite merchandising to increased site traffic through social sharing. With social actions, the shopping experience becomes even more relevant and targeted. 

The new capabilities in Open Graph also helps integrate brands to key points of distribution within Facebook, such as the user’s Timeline, News Feed and Ticker. This gives retailers wider reach to the user’s social graph. 

Open Graph also makes brands more discoverable by users.  It adds the brand to the “Likes and Interests” section of the user’s profile and allows brands to appear in search within Facebook more readily.  In addition, Open Graph creates greater interactivity with users by letting retailers update users directly and target ads to users who like the retailer’s content. 


About the Author:

Gary Lombardo, Commerce solutions marketing, Demandware

Gary Lombardo leads Commerce Solutions marketing at Demandware. As part of his role, he helps retailers navigate the world of multichannel, mobile and social commerce. Gary tweets @garylombardo and can be reached via email at glombardo at demandware dot com. For more information on Demandware, visit



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Steve Susina

About the author

Steve Susina

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