Google’s Friend Connect will help Brands connect
I’ve called Facebook a gated-community because honestly it works behind a gate. One enters the gate by registering, and then Facebook begins working. (And the “gate” analogy is a small nod to Google, the brand that works best when the Internet is open).
The brilliant idea of Facebook is this: the more information a user gives, the better Facebook works. Add high school and year graduated, and people from that era will reconnect. Add a job, and chances are Billy from down the hall will ‘Poke You’. This is at the same time, brilliant and quite possibly the big flaw of Facebook. I know that sounds ridiculous, but listen to this from the always smart Adrian at Zeus Jones:
“The relationships of things and people change over time. This is a key factor in why relationships are so valuable. In the Ning model (and I think this is a problem that Facebook will have to deal with) the relationships that are captured are static. They feel like points in time rather than ongoing, living, mutable things. Because the Google model is more flexible, it has the promise of being able to encompass the shifts and changes in relationships over time.”
Facebook isn’t really a place to meet new friends and make new connections. It’s the place that’s great at reconnecting someone to their grade 10 locker partner. For people a decade or more removed from school, it was neat to reconnect and see pictures from school. And it was more of the crowd gathering that brought people into Facebook and kept those connections coming. (In the crowd analogy, if people see a crowd, they head to it without knowing what’s there). But that’s getting old because there’s a reason people have lost touch with high school buddies: They no longer have much in common except memories.
So there’s a fix to this: eliminate the data on high school in the profile. Then eliminate previous jobs, then eliminate the very things that are the selling proposition of Facebook — information. I think that older people who gravitated to Facebook in the last year will begin to leave. It will happen slowly, they will stop looking every day. Then they’ll look once a week. Next, it will be almost never.
For younger people though, Facebook can still be an important tool. A younger person’s social status, and the continued update of it, is important. Facebook is a good tool for updating status. But so is Twitter. And more tools will come. And like Adrian said, as people grow up, so does the need for their network to grow with them.
Google’s Friend Connect
Enter, Google. This is the not-so-dire to Facebook description on the front page of Google Friend Connect:
Google Friend Connect lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website. With just a few snippets of code, you get more people engaging more deeply with your site.
Attract more visitors. Visitors bring along friends from social networks like Facebook, orkut, and others to interact on your site.
Enrich your site with social features. Choose engaging social features from a catalog of gadgets provided by Google and the OpenSocial developer community.
No programming whatsoever. Just copy and paste snippets of code into your site, and Google Friend Connect does the rest.
What this is saying is everything we can do on Facebook, we’re going to be able to do with Google’s Friend Connect. Instead of creating a Facebook page, and letting that be a social hub, Google is offering the tools to let anything be the social hub.
This is great news for Brands
Brands currently have a problem connecting on Facebook for a simple reason: they don’t have the memories needed to really make a connection.
But an OpenSocial web with social gadgets will be better for people trying to create networks that aren’t based on memories. It will be good for brands looking to start networks that aren’t based on memories from then, but experiences from now.
That’s been the promise all along of the social web — one that hasn’t yet been well executed (outside of a couple of examples).