Friend Connect (www.google.com/friendconnect) comes in the form of a sidebar for websites and blogs that has a powerful viral invitation tool for getting people to join and become part of a community that centres around the content of the site. Website creators and bloggers can invite new community members from a list of Gmail contacts or share the site inside other social networks such as Facebook, MySpace etc.
The genius of it is its simplicity – much like the paradigm-shift brought about by Google’s Adsense – Friend Connect explodes the notion of social networking completely and enables any website to be a component of a global social network.
How does it work? Website creators log in to FriendConnect using their Gmail accounts, download some code and put it on the site. Once this is done, there are several gadgets that can be embedded into the site to enhance the community aspect once people have joined your network:
- a wall gadget so people can post videos, comments and other bits of social lint onto your site;
- a review gadget so people can discuss how cool or lame you are depending on their mood, and,
- most importantly, an OpenSocial gadget that allows you to embed OpenSocial applications inside your site.
The scale of it is grand, like the Israelites toppling the walls of Jericho with their trumpets, or the rumble of elephants and infantry descending upon the Rhône.
Forget the social network as a walled garden, forget social networks as destination sites – FriendConnect turns the whole web into a social network.
The great social network debate is unified profiles -vs- singular social networks. Googles friendconnect is a giant leap for the unified profile. Under the unified profile we will see profiles connected to one another in a more conventional life fashion with out or with little reprensentation of where the profile was created. Under the social network side we have a community for bikers, schools, charities, etc. as one community that you and your profile are a part of. This is a great method for many community types such as an independent private school, a church or a charity where belonging to that community means more than belonging to a website like bed bath and beyond.
This relates to many businesses. How can I leverage my social initivitave with in this great debate. If your company is seeking the relestate of the profile you need to be an application or widget. If you company seeks the verticle community you need your own social network. Which is better? They both serve their purpose and hold value to the respective business that uses them. The unified profile allows the profile owner to dictate the content on their profile. The community allows an enclosed colaboration between people under a percieved community.