What Facebook's New 'Action Links' Could Mean For Apps

Facebook Timeline and Open Graph has given apps a massive boost on the site, only recently was it announced that mobile traffic has increased dramatically over the last two months. Now Facebook has introduced a new feature designed to let people interact with apps directly from it. Action links allows developers to include customised links, letting users do something different whenever a story appears in your news feed, timeline, or ticker.

From the examples that Facebook has shown, it allows users to bookmark content directly from their Timeline, without having to go into the app directly. One such instance is for Foursquare where users will have the option to 'Share this Place', allowing them to save a place to their Foursquare to-do list without having to leave the site. The second example comes from Fab.com which allows users to 'Fave this Product' which again bookmarks content directly from the site itself. All actions are accompanied with the usual options of liking and commenting on said update.

Effectively, the new feature streamlines certain processes for users and it's up to the developers themselves to decide what actions they use. It's a subtle inclusion, but what action links sets itself up for is the ability to direct further traffic to apps via actions or even generate sales if used correctly. Spotify could have an option to save songs onto a specialised playlist, social readers like The Guardian and The Washington Post could let you bookmark favourite stories and vendors like Ticketmaster may let you save events so you can purchase tickets for it later.

The opportunity to build your audience and drive further traffic towards an app could potentially result in more actions or sales happening for it. Also since these apps already appear on a person's news feed, it may convince more people to sign up to these services as the functionality improves.

In a developer post, Facebook software engineer Alex Wyler said: "Action links tie one action to another, and can be part of any Open Graph story. Developers can designate an action link for any action they define, which will then appear throughout Facebook." The social media site has done a great job in integrating apps without disrupting the user experience and you can't help but feel that apps will become a greater part of the Facebook experience as time goes by. Now it's up to app developers to figure out the best way to use this feature and further engage their audiences.