Google Friend Connect adds some social sauce with new Gadgets but there are better options to serve the needs of your ideal guests. This post addresses a few of the new gadgets and better alternatives.
Friend Connect Widget
Google Friend Connect is featured in the side bar on this blog. Until now, Friend Connect Widget has just been a handy way to share your Google Profile Business Card with other Google members. I like the idea of connecting with other fans of Websites using Friend Connect, especially now that Google Profiles are becoming a central nexus for Social Search.
Better Alternative to Friend Connect: I still think Facebook Fan Boxes have a lot more to offer most people in the tourism industry. We use the Facebook Fan boxes on our Tourism Web site to instantly update content. Fan boxes have also attracted quite a few new fans to our Facebook presence.
Social Ribbon Bar
Google offered the Social ribbon bar a while back. I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.
Better Alternative: Steer clear of Ribbon Bars. (I also don’t like those Ow.ly tracking bars in Twitter Links folks! I want you to share the valuable links, not broadcast that you are tracking me!)
Google Interests Poll on the surface looks like a nice social invitation to share your interests . . . . but the description is just too creepy for me to recommend.
The Interests poll helps Google Target Adwords
The content entered by users is added to their Google Profile. We all knew Google was tracking us, but Google doesn’t even give the Widget a description that focuses on the benefits of using the Interests Poll. The sole benefit seems to be to encourage users to generate social interactions so Google can glean more information from users.
Better Alternative: Not sure, got any ideas? This description certainly got me more interested in What Google Knows about me. It is interesting that Google also released the Google Privacy Dashboard so I can control these settings.
Newsletter Email News Sign up Widget
Newsletter Gadget is a valiant effort that falls short because it’s a few years late arriving on the scene. The gadget and associated Newsletter compose and send tool allow users to create, send and manage your newsletters. Users can subscribe to your newsletter when joining your site or via the newsletter gadget. If you are just getting started with an email newsletter, this might be a good place to start. It’s free and looks simple to impliment.
Better Alternative: This service would be infinitely more valuable if one could merge your current email newsletter database into this one. It is also worth considering that in the age of blogs and feeds the best option for most people is the Feedburner Email Widget that I use on this blog to automatically send subscribers blog posts by email.
The Event Gadget is another late offering from Google that replicates what has been possible with Facebook Groups and Fan Pages for years. With 300+ million users Facebook has a huge advantage over Google and this feature won’t help Google close the gap.
Better alternative: Facebook Fan Pages or Facebook Groups
Google is including new options for using Google Connections to manage commenting on your blog on popular platforms like Wordpress. Google also offers a sidebar widget to encourage visitors to leave comments. The nice thing about these comments is they can appear on every page across your site. In the end, you’ll determine if this widget is worth using. The jury is out…. and it’s you.
Google may have gotten this one right. Instead of commenting on the bottom of this post, leave a comment in the new Google Gadget at right and your comment will appear on every page of this blog. Now that is something that could add value for the ideal reader of this blog! Care to try it out?
Better alternative: full fledged commenting tools for blogs are done very well by Disqus
Google Explains the new features of Friend Connect: