Google Releases Public Beta for Friend Connect
Yesterday Google announced that Friend Connect, a social networking service that can be added to any website, is now available in beta form to any webmasters who are interested.
The service, which allows you to log in with any existing Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account, will allow users of any Friend Connect-enabled site to add other users as friends, post comments, pictures or videos, play games, and so on.
Anyone familiar with Facebook will recognize many of the features, and at first glance it looks like Friend Connect is essentially a new iteration of Facebook that can be transplated onto any website. The question many of us might ask: why try to reinvent the Facebook wheel?
Google cites a few of reasons why webmasters might be interested in using Friend Connect. One is that social networking features are particularly engaging, some might even say addictive, meaning visitors to a Friend Connect-enabled site will be more likely to become long-term patrons.
But what seems to be the most important feature is that Friend Connect allows users to invite their friends to your site, opening a potentially enormous door to new visitors, and creating a considerable opportunity for webmasters to increase their traffic and exposure. Repurposing social networking services in order to exploit the enormous traffic they attract is a unique approach to the social networking phenomenon, and one that may well prove succesful.
Still, it’s hard to say whether Friend Connect will catch on, especially given how attached most web-users are to the already wildly successful Facebook, but the idea behind Friend Connect seems like it could be a winner.
Of course, even if Friend Connect fails Google can always go the Youtube route and just buy Facebook up. And on that note, check out this link to a Youtube video of Friend Connect in action.