Be my BFF Add social features to your site with Google Friend Connect

Posted by maggie.hunsucker December 10, 2008

Looking to dip your toe into social networking but not ready to jump in with an entirely new site or big redesign?

Consider using a tool like Google Friend Connect (similar to Facebook Connect as we discussed in Everybody knows your name). This offering from Google makes it easy to integrate social features into your site using specific gadgets (the Google term for widgets).

Current gadgets include a members gadget, which lets you invite friends from social networks or contacts lists (so far, a meager list of Google Talk, Orkut, & LinkedIn) to visit and participate in site activities. There is also a wall gadget for discussions and a rate-and-review gadget. Friend Connect is extremely easy to integrate with your website or blog. There is no need to hire a developer or write additional code. After uploading some simple HTML files to your site, choose the gadget you want, then cut and paste the corresponding code into the body of your site. Last, but not least, Friend Connect lets you utilize your existing login information for Google, Yahoo, AOL, & Microsoft – not as meaty as your Facebook profile but still an excellent feature when you consider just about everyone has an email account with the Big 4.

Aren’t you ready to plug into social networking?

The backbone of Google's Friend Connect is OpenID, a tool for eliminating multiple usernames across sites and the love child of the open source community. Surprisingly, you may already have an OpenID account if you use WordPress, Blogger, Flickr, and many other popular sites.

It's interesting to note that Facebook was an original partner of Google Friend Connect, but they pulled their support and participation from the project over user privacy issues. Last year, Facebook was lampooned for the inherent privacy issues with own Facebook Beacon platform, which may explain their trepidation.

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