Facebook Platform

Built-in Follow

Last updated July 31, 2012

In addition to the Built-In Like feature, Facebook has launched the Built-In Follow option for Open Graph applications. With so many different apps offering Facebook integration, the follow action makes it easier to keep tabs on the stories people tell from within an app in their News Feed, Timeline and through the notifications channel.

This tool is similar to the Subscribe feature on Facebook and allows for people to follow others without having to be friends. It will allow users to see app stories in the Facebook news feed instead of having to visiting the actual app. This Open Graph integration can be seen as a way to consolidate the experience of social and mobile apps for pre-existing Facebook users.

For Developers

Facebook has provided this example: a person can like their favorite restaurant food critic from within a food review app on Facebook.

When a person follows another person, this will appear in the Recent Activity box on Timeline:

The user will also see a notification that they followed someone in your app:

Content a person publishes within your app will be displayed in the follower’s News Feed and Ticker even if they aren’t Facebook friends. People can control who sees what they publish through the privacy settings of the app.

The stories will include links back to the main app where they were created.

One app that has actually already integrated this feature is music application Mixcloud. This is particularly useful because there is no extra steps required to find it in the separate application. Now, when an artist posts a new track or mix, it is immediately pushed to you. Built-in Follow streamlines this experience and allows the Facebook feed to be a one-stop location throughout social media sites.


The reason this is so important is that it shows how Facebook is trying to implant itself into the DNA of the web, allowing people to easily share what they are doing — not just through check-ins and page posts — but elsewhere on the web and in mobile apps, too. All of this sharing can reach over 900 million people via Facebook, incredibly larger than most social app communities.

Adding this the built-in follow feature to your website or mobile app could help drive traffic and re-engagement. Many users visit Facebook several times a day, but they don’t always visit other services as frequently. With built-in follow, users won’t have to think to visit another app or site on their own. They will see prompts in news feed that will take them there. It allows Facebook users to see who their friends are following, extending the reach even further than the app’s user base.

Built-in follow also creates interesting opportunities when celebrities or influencers start to use your app. As we mentioned, users can follow people, even if they aren’t connected as friends. For example, users might want to follow their favorite musicians in a music app or follow an actor in a mobile video sharing app. By integrating Facebook built-in follow, an app can maximize the value and impact of an influencer who uses it.

Technical documentation available here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/actions/builtin/follows/

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