The WordPress plugins directory yields 443 results when you search for a Facebook Like Button for your website or blog. When there's so many available it's always difficult to know which are good quality, or more to the point, which one best suits your needs. What could be perfect for one user would be completely out of place and of little use to another.
So we're going to examine 3 Facebook Like Button plugins that seemed to come recommended by various other blogs, reports and info around the web, including the ever eminent Mashable. Very few of these reports or suggestions listed video, so it's hard to get a good idea of how the plugin will look and what are it's features and drawbacks. Hopefully we'll have gone some way to solve that problem.
Click to View the Video, click bottom right button to view full screen, or to the left of that to view on Youtube with Chaptering.
Generating Like Button Code Directly from Facebook
Firstly I thought it a good notion to use Facebook's own code generator for creating a Like button for your website. There are a few advantages to this. For example if you feel you're reaching a dangerous number of plugins on your site already, you may want to just use raw code for the sake of neatness and order.
There are two ways to use this with different levels of complication. If you wish to have a Like button on ever page you have to paste the initial code into the page, and then the second block of code to where you want to the button to appear. Very troublesome and inefficient stuff if you want it on every page but perfectly fine if you only want it now and again.
However, you can place that code into your WordPress theme file so it can appear on every page. But I'd only recommend that action if you're very familiar with what you're doing, or very brave in experimenting with code. One small error and it either won't work or will create a mess. So overall, unless you're very comfortable with code, it's probably best to go for one of the many suitable plugin options.
The first plugin I looked at was simply called 'Like', which really does what it says on the tin as it doesn't do too much else. The back end of this one looks very similar to the options available for from the Facebook Like button generator. For example you can make it a dark box or light, have it long and horizontal or neater in a stacked tower format, depending on which suits best for where you're going to place it.
It also includes the ability to add a 'Send' button, which has the same function as to 'Share', which allows your viewers to post it to their wall and add a comment. You can choose to have it display only on posts or pages or both. So it's perfect if you want it on your blog for example but not on your static pages.
Best of all for me though, you can add social proof by displaying friends who have liked this already. This could well be the swing factor for many people who want a simple, unobtrusive Like button above or below their posts and who also consider social proof a big boost to their future success.
Facebook Like Button
From one end of the scale to another. Think the opposite of the Like button mentioned above and you're fairly accurate to the Facebook Like Button. This is cool when used well, but you'll need to be sure it suits your needs and doesn't overwhelm your page with distracting information. We used it for a few months, but while it was comprehensive and pretty cool the way the bar is always at the bottom of the viewing screen, it was just too over the top for our needs.
It also demands a lot of information from you, so if you don't have a twitter feed, or picassa or want to give a search google option, or the local weather on the plugin bar then it may look empty and out of balance in itself, never mind messing up the rest of the page.
Rather than simply a Facebook plugin, this would be better described as a social sharing plugin. This is a whole area to itself which I was going to cover in the near future with it's own video and blog posts, but it is called a Facebook Like Button so have included it here.
It should be noted also that the plugin requires sign up with email, to create the code to make it work. Although it doesn't take too long or is too complicated it may concern or frustrate some who either want a faster, neater solution or who gravely dislike giving out their email address to yet another largely unknown website online. If you have such reservations, best to move on.
Facebook Like Button Plugin
Lastly we go to a plugin that is closer to the first Like button. It offers a bold dark back ground "F-My Page" button and a like button beside it which for stands out far more to the viewer, but also balances with not being too obtrusive or distracting either. It's also very fast and easy to set up.
What can be very handy for some users is that it offers several options of use. You can have it above, below or above and below info on pages or you can choose the shortcode option. The latter choice is particularly handy if you want more control of what pages you want to display this button and also have more choice as to where on the page you want to place it.
For people with a little more customisation in mind, they can also upload a replacement image for the display button which adds a factor of control most plugins simply don't provide.
NB: Only in writing this blog post and after I've already shot the video, WordPress has posted a small warning on this plugin page, stating that it hasn't been updated for 2 years and there may be compatibility issues with new versions of WordPress.
Right, if you want lots of detail and the Facebook button always on display no matter where on your site or page your viewers roam, and you feel it doesn't detract from your page or is too busy, then go for Facebook Like Button. If you want the least distracting Facebook plugin with few options and with the benefit of displaying social proof then 'Like' is probably a good bet. If you want a slightly more noticeable Like button and want to customise it or have choice on exactly where you put it try the Facebook Like Button plugin.
However just be careful of the Facebook Like plugin. It still works perfectly for me but as WordPress just said today, (after I'd already produced and published the video), they haven't had it updated in a while so it may cause problems with future versions of WordPress. On that basis, most with simple needs will probably play it safe and just go for the Like plugin. You could do a great deal worse!
With so many plugins that solve this problem out there, it's likely we'll neglect some excellent options, so please leave a comment below if you feel there's a better solution that suits your needs. Do you use a Facebook Like Plugin? Is it mentioned above or do you use another one? Are you happy with it, or what are it's drawbacks?