At the center of Google’s efforts to help sites become more social is Google Friend Connect. It’s brand new from Google and will help just about any site become social. A preview release will be available tonight at www.google.com/friendconnect. Speaking to TechCrunch, David Glazer, an engineer at Google explains that the purpose of Friend Connect is to “give users a shortcut to connections they’ve built-up somewhere else.” As Google points out in their official press release, this helps smaller sites “grow traffic by enabling any site on the web to easily provide social features for its visitors.”
One of the biggest hassles we face as the Internet becomes more social is creating new profiles and lists of friends everywhere we go. Friend Connect would help alleviate that hassle and in the process, help out the smaller sites that want to add social features. For site owners, Google hopes to help them increase their traffic, increase engagement, and do all of this with less work. Adding social elements to any site can be a costly process involving planning and programming, so this would really save site owners time and money.
Ultimately what Friend Connect will allow people to do is sign-in under an account of their choice whether it is Facebook, Google Talk, Orkut, hi5, or Plaxo (more to come in the future) and then any friends that they have listed under their account who also happen to be a member of a “smaller site” they’re on will be made available for interaction. For example, say that you already have a Facebook account. If you came across a site, maybe a musician’s site like Ingrid Michaelson who is taking advantage of Friend Connect, you could sign-in to Ingrid’s social service (it involves iLike) using your Facebook account. If any of your friends on Facebook also happen to be involved on Ingrid’s site, you would be able to interact with them.
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see this really take-off because it would allow for easier interaction with others on sites across the web. Going back to Google Engineer David Glazer, he wraps all of this up really well by saying:
“Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there’s an emerging wave of social standards — OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making ‘any app, any site, any friends’ a reality.”