Larry BraunerSeveral colleagues have asked that I share my experiences and thoughts about Google Friend Connect on this blog. So as to humor these fellows and show them that I can — at least on occasion — be thoroughly amicable and completely reasonable, I’ve acceded to their demands.

Google Friend Connect or GFC is a set of widgets or gadgets, as Google calls them, that you install on any website or blog site, in order to develop a community of users and fans on that site.

If you aren’t familiar with Google Friend Connect, it would be worthwhile to take several minutes right now to check out a CrunchBase blog post on Google Friend Connect or, if you prefer something much more terse, try the Wikipedia article on the same subject.

Here are ten of my personal Google Friend Connect observations:

  1. While the official Google Friend Connect instructions are not totally adequate, the GFC gadgets aren’t  too difficult to install, at least not on a blog site sidebar.
  2. It happens infrequently that the Google Friend Connect gadgets can’t be installed on a website because of a script conflict. I haven’t found a way to work around this problem, but I’m still on the lookout for a solution.
  3. Once gadgets installed, visitors to your site begin joining, almost if by magic.
  4. As with Facebook pages, you can actually see who your members are and reach out to them if you choose.
  5. The rate at which people join is lower than I would have expected, yet slow and steady, they do keep joining. I suspect that too few people understand what Google Friend Connect is.
  6. The single most valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is the website newsletter. Make sure you click the check box in the newsletter tab that reads: “Ask visitors to subscribe immediately after their first sign-in.” A high percentage of your site’s GFC members will elect to receive email updates from you.
  7. Another valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is member polling that helps you learn about your members and their preferences. You can download your data into a spreadsheet to analyze.
  8. The Google Friend Connect comment box enables members to have discussions with you and with each other. I’ve only installed it on blogs so far. Since visitors can comment on individual blog posts, I don’t feel that the gadget has added much to these sites. I’m looking forward to installing it on a site that has no blog in the very near future.
  9. If you log into Google sometimes using one account and other times using another, your Google Friend Connect membership may suffer a split personality. Unfortunately, there isn’t even a name yet for this disorder. GFC gives you so many ways to connect that you can easily become fragmented.
  10. I originally joined Google Friend Connect because I believed it might help with my search engine optimization. I reasoned that any data that Google owned, they ought to use to assist their search algorithms. I have no proof, but my analysis leads me to believe that they are in fact using these data. If they aren’t, they might in the future. In any case, considering the brand building benefits of GFC, you can look at search influence as a possible plus.

I highly recommend Google Friend Connect. While it won’t totally transform your website, GFC will make it more social.

Please join Google Friend Connect on my blog’s right sidebar.

Comments

7 Responses to “10 Google Friend Connect Observations”

  1. Warren Contreras on July 9th, 2010 7:06 pm

    The big problem I see is Google allows multiple email accounts and it’s easy to get lost trying to add new integrated features like this. You never know what you are going to get. Maybe I just need a quiet day with nothing putting time pressure on me.

  2. Larry Brauner on July 9th, 2010 7:38 pm

    I agree Warren. That was what I was alluding to in #9 above.

  3. Chris Lang on July 10th, 2010 9:51 am

    Here’s the fix you need Larry, it is a WordPress script problem that make Google Friend Connect appear blank in some browsers.

    http://www.googlingsocial.com/?p=449

    Got this straight from Google.

    Also do not believe unskilled peeps when they tell you to add the GFC code to a WordPress HTML widget. WRONG – Do not do that.

    Copy and paste the fix into the sidebar page in WP, called sidebar.php, then add the GFC code. Add it high up in the gadget or it will do you no good.

    Lastly, you can send your GFC members email directly from the GFC site. That is what makes GFC powerful, it is a mailing list.

    Lastly when you friend someone on a GFC gadget you stay on the site you are on. In a Facebook version, you go off to Facebook.

    Advantage GFC, especially if Google finally builds a wall type Google Me app that brings all 20 social apps in Google’s arsenal together.

    Let me know if I can help you with GFC in any way in the future Larry,

    Chris Lang

  4. Larry Brauner on July 12th, 2010 7:58 pm

    Thank you for the hack Chris. The problem you fix isn’t the one that I’ve seen, however.

  5. Jane on October 23rd, 2010 12:46 pm

    Hi,

    I have tried to install Google Friend Connect on my website but although I follow their instructions, successfully get a code generated and then cut and paste it direct onto my HTML widget when I activate it on my page nothing happens I just get a gray line.

    My website is made on Apple and hosted by Mobile Me – I don’t know if this affects it but it is very frustrating. The people at Apple have no idea what to do either.

    Thanks,
    Jane

  6. Larry Brauner on October 23rd, 2010 8:18 pm

    Jane,

    As I pointed out in #2, this can be a problem. I understand your frustration. I think that Google needs to re-think their widget strategy.

  7. forhuntersbyhunters on January 14th, 2011 7:20 pm

    I have searched the web to find decent instruxtions on how to implement the GFC comment box into my blogspot blog. I have tried everything to no avail. Do you have specific instructions on how to do so? I tried adding widgets, adding into my htmel in the body all over and no luck. I cant get it to be consistant and my site is clean )all 3 connected sites).
    Any direction would be helpful, thank you.

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