Google and Facebook both launched services today and you may be faced with a decision about which to use. Both offer very similar ways to allow users to log in to your Web site with either their Facebook or Google account. Both allow you to make your Web site more social (potentially more viral), and give you way more information about your visitors. I’ll take you on a quick walk through in this short video.
Both Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect add social features to your website. Google Friend Connect is now running on this blog. You can do much deeper integrations, but this will give you the flavor of it. So, effectively I can sign in using my Google credentials and then invite friends, precipitate in comments, all using my Google account.
Check out Sociable.es to see the Facebook implementation running on a WordPress blog (a more official Wordpress Plug-in is rumored to be coming soon). The Sociable.es widget appears very similar to the Google widget, and again you can actually do much more integration than what’s demonstrated there. Basically, the widget records who has visited based on an opt-in login. One feature of the Sociable.es implementation that you might find this entertaining is the very recognizable “invite your friends” page. So now, your visitors can invite their friends to your site. This may make you cringe or make you smile.
The only difference between the two: Google is a little bit more advanced in that you can drag and drop some scripts into your site and get more functionality more quickly, but it’s a little bit buggier, from what I’ve read. “Facebook Connect” is primarily just a re-branding of “Facebook App”, capabilities that have been around for a long. Also, they’ve smoothed out the sign-in process. However, you could have faked this using all the Facebook APIs that have been around for the last year and a half or so.
Why would you implement either of these? First of all, it makes it easier for your users to sign in. Whichever service you use, it’s going to give you a lot of user profile data without them ever having entered it on your site. Users just approved that your site has access to their data. Undoubtedly, there will be Web analytics tools shortly to let you track exactly who visits your site, how often, with details of their gender, age, and nationality.
Also, implementing Facebook or Friend Connect potentially makes your site more viral due to the invite and news feed features. Rather than a “Share This” button, you can have an invite your friends button that could share your product or re-post or anything on your website to a social network news feed. Additionally, there will be lots of developer tools that come out that allow you to supplement your existing website with social features like questions, comments, ratings, with pre-built code either from Facebook, Google or third-party developers.
These are exciting services for users and site owners because they allow for non-anonymous Web surfing. From Google and Facebook’s perspective, the more sites that implement these services, the more user identities they will own accross the internet. It is something that Yahoo’s MyBlogLog and Microsoft’s Passport have tried before, but potential with the new services is greater because they are easier to implement, and give access to more data.
- Google Friend Connect
- Facebook Connect
- Google Friend Connect Example Site
- Facebook Connect example Site
Other comments and questions
- Will Google’s friends list tie in with other OpenSocial implementers (MySpace and LinkedIn)?
- There is no reason why you can’t implement both on your Web site.