Share, Like, Count (8,281 views)
Admitted, we joined the facebook share/like social plugin button craze late.
Partially because before we didn’t know enough about the inner workings of the implementation as well as growing security and privacy concerns revolving around facebook.
But eventually we gave in, after doing our research we integrated both buttons into our blog and waited. We waited to see if somebody was actually using the buttons, and what was going to happen when someone did.
While Sharing and Liking are two different concepts, we almost immediately noticed something very odd:
We like this
Of course we clicked our own Like button. Twice. And as expected the number of people who like this increased accordingly to Two people like this.
The Share counter didn’t show any change (expected: as you might know by now you need 3 Share actions for the counter to show). Or so we thought.
We didn’t share this
After the third click on the Like button (by a trusted friend) we found that 3 people like this (as expected), but after a page reload something else had happened as well: the Share counter notified us that our article had been shared 3 times.
Really? Within this short time 3 people had already thought our article was worth sharing 3 times? How come?
Ask the API
We needed to know for sure so we went ahead and queried the facebook API for the URL in question, and this is what we found:
0 3 0 3 0
Does this mean the Share counter is wrong? Does it count the wrong entry (like_count) instead of share_count?
So we shared the article, once by posting it to a facebook user’s profile, and once by sending it as a message and reloaded the page again.
Now the Like counter said: 5 people like this and the Share counter told us the article had been shared 5 times.
We queried the API again and found this:
2 3 0 5 0
To make sure we liked and shared different URLs as well, and after every Like, Unlike and Share action we ran another query to monitor the results.
By now we feel it’s safe to say that the count you see next to the Like button and the count above (or next to) the Share button is the combined count of at least like_count and share_count. At this point we are unable to say if comments add to the displayed count as well (but it might be a fair assumption since total_count is being shown after comment_count).