Google Friend Connect – The next “big thing”?

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 in Other |

In a nutshell…

Google recently launched it’s version of social networking… by tying the sites you visit together via one universal, open platform.

The advantages of adding this feature to your site means that people can join your site by simply clicking one button and signing in using their Google or any OpenID account. This then allows the user’s friends on Google to see they joined your site, making a potential viral marketing oportunity. Not only that, Google Friend Connect supplies you with various gadgets that you can place around your site (e.g. the toolbar you see at the bottom of this blog).

Once your visitor has joined your site, they are then able to make friends within your site and remember them across any sites they visit. An excellent way of bringing people together, since many people are likely to visit similar sites.

From the site owner’s point of view, this is also a great tool due to the sheer simplicity of installation. All that’s needed is two files uploaded to the website, and a code snippet added to the pages that will show the GFC gadget.

The bigger picture

The fact that Friend Connect integrates with user google accounts is great and provides many possibilites for traffic growth. However the idea behind friend connect goes way further than this by using open and standardised technologies.

Google Friend ConnectSTI on Youtube – Google Friend Connect adheres to the Open Social 0.8.1 API Specification which means that you can create your own programs, gadgets, and functions that interact with visitors’ GFC accounts while using a widely (and growingly) accepted standard.

This is not limited to Javascript either, since you can also access the API using RESTful protocol, JSON, XML, and AtomPub, and RPC (although this is optional for a platform that adheres to the API, google does allow RPC). The advantages of this are obvious, as you don’t have to learn a whole new API for each platform using this standard, and better yet you can use standardised libraries such as the OpenSocial PHP Library

Possible uses include authentication to your site, where you can verify users with their GFC account. Here’s an example of recording user actions on your site with Google friend connect. The possibilites are there… the question is what will you do with your site to make it social? Google Friend Connect is still in beta, and only time will tell, but we’re pretty sure that OpenSocial standards are the way forward and Google’s ethos for adopting open standards will reward it with even more popularity.