Friend-finder has launched as a way to help websites go viral, not via newfangled social media but good old fashioned IM. It’s the latest product from London-based Comufy, the communications platform for businesses.
Similar to TweetSwitch, which we covered last year, the service is powered by Comufy’s existing technology. The widget can be integrated into virtually any website with a single line of code, claims the UK startup, and enables users to login via IM to invite their friends to visit the site. IM, of course, is still largely the communication platform of choice for teens, hence Comufy’s new product is particularly suited to browser-based gaming sites, says the company. Social betting sites are another potential target.
However, this isn’t integrating the full gamut of IM into a website but should be thought more of as an alternative ad unit. In fact, Comufy chargers per-click in the same way as Google. Messages sent through the system can’t be edited – they’re pre-scripted – and are sent from the user’s own account, which helps to keep click-through rates high. Additionally, Comufy tracks all clicks through friend-finder, providing site owners with valuable data. And the service is COPA compliant too, meaning it is safe to use with young audiences, says the company.
That said, friend-finder feels like a version one. Logging in to an IM network – I tested MSN – could certainly be sped up and right now the full list of friends is presented, with no indication of who is or isn’t online at that time. This might not be an issue for click-through, since off-line messages are sent, but it makes the service feel less realtime and therefore not entirely designed to increase take up of social gaming, for example. Version two is planned to address these issues, however.