Google Raises The Social Bar With New Friend Connect Feature

Google is now making it easier for Websites to surface Friend Connect features with what it is calling the Social Bar. This is a toolbar that Websites can add to their homepage or any other page they wish, and then they can add links for drop-down gadgets that lets site visitors do things such as sign in via Friend Connect, see who else has signed in recently, check out comments, or site members, all from Social Bar. Here is an example.

Basically, the social bar is a small strip that webmasters can layer on top of any web page, either at the top or at the bottom. That way, website visitors are provided with a bit of information, and the bar also lets them interact with any social feature the site incorporates through drop-down gadgets. As Software Engineer Christopher Wren explains in the announcement blog post, this is a good way to save on pixel space and keep putting the actual content of the site forward first.

Here are some of the gadgets Websites can include in the Social Bar, from Google’s brand new Social Web blog:

  • On the far left, visitors can join your site, see their identity, and edit their profiles and settings.
  • Your visitors can also delve into your site’s activity stream to see what’s happening throughout your site. It includes links to recent posts made anywhere on your site, helping other visitors quickly find where the hottest conversations are taking place.
  • The wall gadget can host a discussion for the whole site, a section of pages, or each individual page, letting your visitors easily read and leave comments.
  • Lastly, visitors can see the other members of your site, check out their profiles to see how like-minded they really are, and even become friends.

The toolbar approach is both an attempt at ubiquity and invisibility at the same time. Google wants Friend Connect to be everywhere, but at the same time it doesn’t want to seem too pushy about being everywhere. Hence, the seemingly innocuous toolbar. But that toolbar expands with pop-down gadgets, which takes advantage of Google’s strengths with creating gadgets in iGoogle and elsewhere. Can a Facebook Connect toolbar be far behind?