The Facebook Like Buttons Create Problems for Website Owners

I had been a very big advocate of implementing Facebook Like buttons into websites.  After all, I had argued that it is important to drive traffic to your website via social media and the Like buttons seem to offer a simple way to let users share your content with their Facebook friends.  However, after making the effort to integrate Facebook like buttons across our web properties – I am truly sorry to say that they can cause a lot of trouble for website owners.

Here are 4 Examples of How the Facebook Like Buttons Create Problems…

1)  Cross Browser Functionality

We implemented the Facebook XML buttons as they offer much more flexibility and functionality than the Iframe buttons.  The problem is that while Firefox handled them well, Internet Explorer did not.  Other browsers we tested handled the Like button differently as well.  The buttons weren’t universal in that they functioned based on the specific browser they were on.  This was a constant headache as it was frustrating when I personally visited several of our web properties on IE and the buttons weren’t working.

2) Negatively Effecting Other Areas of the Website

Perhaps the most frustrating experience came when we realised the Facebook buttons were causing entire web pages not to work.  We have a Facebook Fan Page for each of our properties, and on one of our Fan Pages we had a user commenting that they couldn’t access articles on our site.  Here is an “actual” dialogue we had with one of our Facebook fans:

User:  How come I can’t get to the history section of your website? It will stay on the page briefly, but then goes to a blank page!?  I think that was a result of the Facebook Like buttons messing with your browser! We have since removed them from the history page, can you try again and let us know if it works!

User:  Yaaaaay!!! It’s fixed! Thank you!

Granted, we could do the work to try and debug the issue to see why this problem was happening – but we have more pressing projects to take care of and we can’t have the Facebook buttons causing our sites to become unusable.

3)  Google Analytics Troubles

Another major issue with the Facebook Like button involves reporting within Google Analytics.  We, like most websites, use Google Analytics as it offers a free and fantastic way for us to pull traffic reports for each of our websites.  One important metric we look at is page views, and we noticed that the Facebook buttons, from time to time, were showing up as a separate page view.  This ended up skewing our page view numbers drastically. 

We went online to a few webmaster forums and found countless website owners also frustrated with this same issue.  It is important for us to know our metrics and statistics, and the Facebook Like buttons were throwing our Google Analytics numbers out of whack.

4)   Not Automated

While it is extremely simple to publish the Like buttons on your web page, you do have to add the specific URL to each specific Like button.  For example, if your website has a sitewide navigational menu, which is displayed at the top of every page of your website, you can’t just plug in the Facebook button because in the HTML code, for each button, you have to specify the actual webpage that the user is Liking.  This makes it much more difficult to automate the process of publishing the Facebook Like buttons across an entire website.

The solution we have found is to promote our Facebook Fan Pages.  Instead of having users Like a given article or piece of content, we are having them like our Fan Pages and these buttons have worked well on our sites.  A major advantage of the user Liking a Fan Page is that we can maintain consistent communications with the user as they will see each of our updates on their Facebook page.  The Like buttons, on the other hand, offer more of a one time boost which lets users promote a given article to their Facebook friends.

In summary, Facebook fan pages have allowed us to engage with our audience and grow an online community for each of our properties.  In fact, as I mentioned before, it was one of our Facebook fans which helped us come to the conclusion that the Facebook like buttons are more trouble than they are worth.  So we are removing all of our Like buttons and instead we are promoting the respective Facebook Fan Page of the given web property.