Companies are integrating social media applications into their own site to add personalization and create a sense of community. Major sites across multiple industries have embraced UGC and collaborative tools to try to boost loyalty. Community elements enable engagement with prospects and customers. They open up lines of communication and can help drive innovation.
The value of adding social applications to a site is clear, but smaller sites may not have been able to afford the investment. Now the cost barrier to add social features to sites is gone. Google Friend Connect lets site owners easily add cool social features to their site.
No programming knowledge is required. Just a few lines of code adds social apps to any site. Features include the ability to run Google social widgets such as registration, member profiles, and ratings and reviews. Sites that are a part of FriendConnect can also run third-party social applications created by OpenSocial developers making the choices of applications limitless.
FriendConnect represents Google’s entry into data portability. Visitors can sign in with log-ins from their existing accounts (Yahoo, Google, AIM). And can also link in their friends from their social networks such as hi5 and orkut. Facebook announced that they are blocking Friend Connect but this policy could change.
Users benefit from a portable data structure. It’s our data so we should be able to take it with us.
And it’s natural for key players to want to control this user data. Similar products, MySpace Data Availability and Facebook Connect, were announced earlier this month.
There are multiple benefits of Google Friend Connect. Small sites that previously had no user information can now tap into the larger social networks. Users can interact with their friends at these new destinations. OpenSocial developers can gain wider exposure with their applications. Google Friend Connect is currently a preview release. But its wide release will certainly grow the social web.