What is Facebook’s Open Graph and how does it work?

open graph(Image by Engageinteractive)

 If you’ve been wondering what Facebook’s Open Graph and Graph search is or what it means; this post will answer that. Facebook ‘s Open Graph was introduced in April 2010, what the platform does is let you do more than just connecting your site to Facebook by using a new set of programming tools that let’s you use information in and out of Facebook.


It lets you integrate apps into the Facebook experience, which increases engagement, distribution and growth. It has since been open to third party applications. For example if you logged on to Spotify using your Facebook login, the music application uses the open graph technology to post what you’re listening to onto your news feed so that your friends can comment, like or listen to the song too. This is so much more engaging than regular updates.

What it essentially means is that any website where you see some kind of call to action to login via Facebook –That brand is using Facebook’s Open Graph.


As Facebook evolves, it is becoming an entire encyclopedia of sorts for a user’s actions, his photos, the songs he listens to or an article he recently shared or viewed. These are stored in Open Graph as Stories. These stories when grouped together provide a detailed list of a user’s interests, hobbies etc. These insights make it a very powerful tool for effectively reaching consumers and for fostering engagement.


Open Graph requires time to build an app that likes an object and publishes a story to Facebook. Open Graph can be broken into 2 parts- User Actions and Open graph Stories.


User actions are indicators of a person’s interests because the user’s activities and behaviors are based upon those interests. Although it isn’t stored indefinitely, the actions are reflected in real time, making it good for effective understanding of the user in the present situation.


Open Graph Stories drive social recommendations on news feed and are powerful drivers of engagement as users would trust their friend’s recommendation more than ads.


Kiss-metrics explains it beautifully in the chart below, as per the graph, each Open Graph Story includes:

  1. A user or Actor– The person who published the story
  2. An action– The activity the user performs
  3. An object– The object the user interacts with. They are publicly accessible web pages hosted on the Internet. They are public information.
  4. The App– publishes the story on the user or actor’s behalf. Every story is generated by an app used to create it.


For ex: lily (user/actor) listened (action) to Katy Perry (Object) on Spotify (App). If there are no common actions available that meets your needs, custom actions types are possible to create.



 (Image by KissMetrics)

 All apps that want to use Open graph must go through a review process for the stories they create. You should give users proper notice and controls and the content that your app publishes have to be accurate and well structured. Facebook has a set of guidelines and review actions to ensure that you meet their requirements.


The reviews of every action are based on 4 areas- User Experience, Usage Instructions, Language and Test environment. Here’s how to Get Started with Open Graph. For Custom Stories, creating Object types and Creating Action Types just follow the step-by-step instructions.

How your Business can use Open graph:


The utility of Facebook’s Open graph is not just for advertisers but for users to see all things that their friends are doing. Apart from Open Graph stories being published automatically, users can search for actions in open graph using the newly introduced ‘Graph Search’


Graph Search, which allows users to search for friends’ activities on open graph including check-in’s, status updates and events. For Ex: If you want a review of a new restaurant you can look up ‘friends who have been to China T’


It will be a valuable tool for user’s to explore activities their friends are up to and find people with similar interests. Facebook has not as yet discussed how Graph search will work for marketers in depth but here are a few ways that businesses can prepare their Facebook presence for the adoption of Graph Search (Available only to a few users for now, it will soon be widespread and inevitable)

  1. Increase your Facebook presence: To maximize the likelihood of your business appearing in a graph search, create a strong Facebook presence, using the Facebook advertising approaches such as Fan acquisition and user engagement.
  2. Encourage actions: Check –ins are one of the easiest actions to take, it will help recommend a business like no other as it passes on from user to his friends and they to their friends. Businesses can ask customers to check in at the entrance or even at point of sale, and you could also offer deals for repeat customers too.
  3. Create an effective Facebook page for Graph Search: By ensuring that your page is up to date, adding photos and using a good cover photo, posting compelling, authentic content, using fun and creative videos, giving a lot of attention to visuals and being as responsive as possible, you could increase the chance of appearing in a search.


Open Graph is essentially about the collection of stories and actions that people post to Facebook and they portray a more detailed user behavior.Moving forward, you will have to join the waiting list for Graph search and follow the development so that your marketing efforts grow as Graph search evolves.





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