There is no question, social networking is booming, as well as social networking for business, and there is no end in sight. While users are leveraging social networks to increase website traffic for their business, they are also placing social network profile content on their website properties, from your Twitter feed to Facebook badges, LinkedIn widget to Plaxo Badges, just to name a few. Now, Google is attempting to extend their reach in the social game by helping users extend theirs with Google Friend Connect .
I received a notice last week from the folks at Google saying that I had access to the Google Friend Connect preview release. I signed up for the preview release a while back thinking this could possibly be added to social marketing strategies for small business. After uploading two HTML files to the site, and putting a piece of code in my sidebar, I had it installed and configured on one of my blogs in about 10 minutes (I’ve since added it here as well, you should see it on the right side).
First observations of Google Friend Connect:
- After installing the “Join” widget, I realized I needed to install a second widget to enable the Friend Connect comments. This is a useful feature because it allows for a Google friends conversation right there on the site, and would potentially increase website traffic.
- I have multiple Google profiles, so I had to figure out which one I would use for this site, followed by updating my Google profile. Doing so allows my sites, and member sites to show up whenever my avatar is clicked. This is great for referral traffic, but I’m not sure how that works from a search engine perspective, since it is contained within a Java code (feel free to chime in if you have some insight here)
One thing I really like about Google Friend Connect, is that if you are using Google Reader and choose to share an piece of content from an RSS feed, not only can you share it with a note on your publicly available page, you can also share that content with your Google Friends, so it shows up in their Google Reader account as “Shared from Friends” content. Taking it a step further, you can configure your Google profile so that your shared Reader content shows up with your Avatar clicks on sites you are running or have joined through Google Friend Connect.
Is Google Friend Connect a fit for Your Social Marketing Strategy?
How does this help those interested in social networking for business or building a social marketing plan? Glad you asked. There are 3 ways:
- Social Proof: If Google Friend Connect takes off, and you started early, and gain followers, or ‘Friends’ it is a demonstration to your market that you must have something worth listening to. Social proof is a component of all successful social marketing strategies.
- More Website Traffic: All those who have joined your site, as long as they are a member, your site shows up on their profile (members of…).
- Search Results: While it is too early to tell, who knows how Google will serve search queries for sites which use Google Friend Connect and those that don’t. If they have more information about you in their indexes (your site listed on member profiles) and those with competing keywords is not using Google Friend Connect (and less indexed information on member profiles), it stands to reason, that your site might provide more relevant information and therefore be served above a competitor.
Social networking for business is about implementing a social marketing strategy to extend your reach, be it Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo or many others. Google Friend Connect provides yet another way to do just that and is worth considering for any social marketing plan. How successful, or where it might lead (AdWords anyone?) will unfold in time. Give it a whirl, by clicking the “Join in” button to the right, and I will keep you informed as things develop.
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How to Get Started with Google Friend Connect: No time like the present, right? Go ahead and click the Join button in the Google Friend Connect box to the right where it says “Google Friend Connect …Join In”. Login, and join the site. If you don’t have a Google account, it will prompt you to create one. Then review other site members, and add them as friends.
Image credits to lord_chernobill