Joining the ranks of tools such as Tweetmeme and Digg widgets, Facebook's Share button will now be showing the number of users who share items in real time - and with a new set of analytics features.
Facebook Platform product manager Mark Kinsey writes on the Facebook Developers blog, "Today we're making the sharing experience on Facebook and off even richer by launching the next version of Facebook Share, with a live counter, as well as new ways to measure how content is being shared on Facebook."
While the cosmetic change is a nice feature for end users, the real news here is the analytics on the back end. Content creators and site owners can access the data associated with each shared item, including how often users share the link, how often they "like" shared content, how often they comment on the shared content on Facebook, and how often users click through from the shared item on Facebook to the original website.
"You can do this programmatically by calling the links.getStats API method, or you can run an FQL query on the link_stat table," writes Kinsey. "By giving you access to this data for all URLs, we hope you'll create tools to help analyze and understand how users interact with your content on Facebook."