Facebook today launched the Recommendations Bar. The new social plug-in is supposed to help you find new articles by tapping in to what your Facebook friends Like and Share on the same Web site you're currently on.
Though it may not be clear from the screenshot on the right, the Recommendations Bar resides at the bottom right of your browser window. Much like Facebook Chat, it appears as a pop-up, but you can minimize it. It features a Like button for the Web page as well as article recommendations.
Here's how it works. As you're trying to concentrate on reading an article, you will be annoyingly disturbed with a pop-up that highlights recommended articles you should read, and also prompted to Like the Web page. Facebook says recommendations are based on content your Facebook friends have "explicitly" Liked and Shared on the same Web site, or in the Web site's app.
When you Like an article using the Recommendations Bar, a story is published on your Timeline and on your Facebook friends' News Feed. In other words, this is just a more invasive version of the Like button and Recommendations Box. CNET doesn't have one of these, but I'm sure you've seen it on other Web sites: it's a little rectangular section with a list of articles sorted by Likes (stories Liked by your Facebook friends are on top, followed by those with lots of Likes).
In early tests, Facebook claims sites saw three times the click-through on the stories it recommended via the Recommendations Bar when compared with the Recommendations Box. Because of the pop-up reminding readers about Facebook, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that the company is seeing improved results already.
If you want to add the Recommendations Bar to your Web site, you'll have to configure it, copy a few line of code, and paste it into the source of your site. For more information, check out the documentation on Facebook Developers: Recommendations Bar. Alternatively, you can use the Facebook for WordPress plug-in, which now includes this added functionality as well.
Today's announcement means Facebook now offers 11 social plug-ins: Like Button, Send Button, Subscribe Button, Comments, Activity Feed, Recommendations Bar, Recommendations Box, Like Box, Login Button, Registration, and Facepile. You may be wondering about the Live Stream plug-in; it was deprecated and will be removed on October 3 (Facebook is telling developers to use the Comments plug-in instead). I don't think Facebook will be deprecating the Recommendations Box, it will likely be offered as a less in-your-face version of the new Recommendations Bar.