Social Colonization on the Web Strategy Blog with Facebook Connect

Thanks to Mitch, my web designer, we’ve added the ability for you to login using your Facebook account and leave comments with your verified ID.

This means in the comments you don’t have to fill out the usual “name, email, URL” in the comments (otherwise known as the irrelevant web form), and if you’re already logged into Facebook it’s two click connect: one to say you want to connect with FB, the second to confirm the action.

Once in a while, I get spam, off topic, or an anonymous nasty comment, and it manually requires me to remove it. In the future, I can rely on verified IDs which can reduce this. We can basically rely on the identify confirming systems that Facebook is working hard on, leveraging their hard work.

To be clear, this is not a complete example of social colonization, I should enable a feature that would let you quickly share your comment, or my blog post with your community with Facebook. Secondly, logins in the future won’t just be limited to Facebook, but any social network that you’re part of: Twitter, LinkedIn, Hyves, MySpace, Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft Live. Lastly, I don’t have any way of gleaning data (that I know of) from folks that are logged into my site with their FB identity, but it would be nice to get a report of who’s coming, or the type of people that are coming, and how often. Likely, a great deal of this metadata will be housed within Facebook.

I had a conversation with Bob Pearson yesterday, the former executive at Dell who ran the social program, we were talking about how social networks can become destination hubs, and how Facebook could eventually bypass Google for search. To me, the web as a destination is an old model, Facebook will be more powerful if it’s not a destination but a type of overlay across the entire web –including impacting search engine results on every search site.

We’re in this era of social colonization now, so if you’re a web strategist at a brand or agency, you should be experimenting to find out how these things work. I won’t say I have all the answers to how to best harness this era, but I’m going to experiment to find out and will share along the way.

  • Sweet – Well I’ll plant the first Facebook Connect flag!

  • Thanks for sharing Jeremiah! Great post!

  • Jay, Sue

    Thanks, Also, I can see that you’re logged in using your Facebook account as I mouse over your URL, and it auto uploaded your photo.

    Nicely done.

  • I’m sure this discussion has been had many times, but I prefer Google Friend Connect for comments and on my blog. Given Facebook’s more personal nature, I don’t promote it as a business connection myself. (yes, I know it’s not hiding it.)

    I’m sure enabling several different options as you said in your Twitter post would be the best idea, an OpenID, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and FB would be the most beneficial… (if not confusing) setup.

    Looking forward to social media maturity!

  • Nifty connection capability!

    I think this may be the most powerful line of this post: “To me, the web as a destination is an old model, Facebook will be more powerful if it’s not a destination but a type of overlay across the entire web – including impacting search engine results on every search site.”

  • Now I’m trying to figure out how you pulled in my picture! Twitter image maybe?

  • Experimenting is the only way we’re going to learn… and share.

    Great ideas 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  • Charlie

    I’m open to adding more, but let’s just start with FB. If identities start to consolidate around OpenID and Facebook, then I may just have to offer one or two.

    I realize I have a business audience here, and I’m happy to ‘fish where the fish are’ and meet the needs of folks

  • Elizabeth, Glad you picked up on that.

    If the social web matures to where I think it will, I can turn off this blog, and still be able to reach everyone, perhaps even more effectively. That is the ultimate test, and I’m willing to try it as the web evolves.

    Charlie, are you using Gravatar? I’ve got that enabled on this blog, and it may pull your picture using that. I assure you, I don’t have any telepathic to gif abilities.

  • It is interesting to see how our content habits are changing rather fast. YouTube as the 2nd largest search engine is showing the importance of video, which we can process much faster than regular copy. I agree with Jeremiah on the growing ubiquity of Facebook, as being a key. It’s sort of like a “liquid network”. Wherever you want to go, your network/community is along for the ride.

    Meanwhile, I still hear too many folks say “we need to build a new site to drive traffic to x product”. I always respond by saying that the destintation site is simply another part of a content network. It is not the answer. Driving to one site is old school in many respects. All the best, Bob

  • Wise move, Jeremiah. While I appreciate folks like Charlie above keeping Facebook for personal and family connections, Facebook Connect is what the vast majority of consumers will use to connect to the social web outside of FB. Thus, most will never have a web site or blog thus the use of Google Connect is not relevant for many consumer blogs… at this time. But I’m watching iGoogle to see how consumers respond. Peace to your day!

  • It’s really not that difficult to add more. I was actually surprised with how easily I was able to get people able to log in with Google, Yahoo, Myspace, and Facebook for a project I’m developing right now. Because I based it around the openid and oauth support already offered by these companies, adding more (such as Twitter) should take more time on designing the login button than setting the functionality up.

    It should be possible to pull the Facebook information you want, but it’s not going to be fool proof, more of a best effort you can do.

    First, you’d want to set it up so you can authorize people to allow offline access permission to your site. This will provide your application with a permanent session key you can use. Next, you’d want to tie the facebook account to some sort of local account, and implement sessions locally. Then if you can manage to keep the session valid (long lasting cookies), after they’ve logged in, you can keep track of when they come and go.

    Disclaimer: This comment was posted as I was still consuming my first cup of coffee after a long weekend. Some of the methodology I posted above is a high level explanation of somethings I’m already doing with a project I’ve been working on to create a social media/search aggregation, that currently does support logging in and out using the credentials mentioned above, as well as some information retrieval. It is doable.

  • very cool. Can you share what plugins and code you used Jeremiah?

  • Ken

    I’ll let Mitch respond, as I don’t really know the nuts and bolts.

    Joseph, just as we saw ‘sharethis’ come to the foreground allowing content to be spread to many sites, we should expect a tool to emerge that will allow anyone to quickly add all identies from one plugin.

    Bob, I’d love to hear more from you on the liquid network

  • RPX does something similar… otherwise, it may end up being what I’m developing that might meet that goal. I already suggest linking all accounts in order to manage web identity, I suppose at some point I could set up as an oauth provider and an API to access the various account info. I’d just have to either get large enough first to afford to offer it for free, or figure out how best to monetize it without charging subscription, as I don’t think that would be a valid model.

    Something to think about anyway, going to drop that in my project notes, thanks Jeremiah.

  • Great post Jeremiah, and thanks for sharing your experiment.

    Curious to hear your perspective as to how you will be able to turn off your blog, once the social web matures, while continue to reach a large audience across. Also, do you for see any privacy and security jitters people might have utilizing facebook connect? Again, thanks for sharing.

  • Maikel

    There are always going to be privacy and security risks. I’ll continue to let folks register with the normal web form (manual entry) without having to expose their FB credentials.

  • First task for the programmer to do is to make a priority which one to select as a default ID when visitors have more then one (if not all) those logged-in ID at the moment they visit our site.

    What we are going to do to those people if they visit again some day using different ID connect provider.

    I think it should be only ID for the default, and it will be happen only when the biggest ID connect provider integrate their system such as FB and OpenID did.

    This is just like make a convention about open standard. No standard no colonization, I think. CMIIW

  • Great post Jeremiah!

    I’m curious, do you think by enabling FB Connect it may deter some users from participating on various sites because they’re no longer anonymous?

  • Wibisono, interesting, I agree, standardization is still very far off in this new era.

    Amanda, yes that will change things. People that give verified IDs will receive priority on a variety of sites

    I will still allow anonymous comments on my blog –as long as they are on topic and within the spirit of the site.

  • Jeremiah, it’s great to see you implementing Facebook Connect, which, as Charlie mentioned is only one of many emerging authentication methods. I personally have Facebook Connect, Twitter Connect, and Google Friend Connect implemented on my site. It would definitely be nice though, to see them all integrated into one social media authentication protocol. We’ll have to see how this all plays out.

    One of your commenters asked what plugins were implemented. WordPress has some excellent plugins in which to easily integrate the connect authentication. I have found that the plugins below are excellent and easy to implement:

    Facebook Connect:

    Twitter Connect:

    Google Friend Connect:

  • It is a great move from Facebook with facebook Connect and what that brings on with the Social Colonization. For your site and many others with a professional focus, I would rather present myself with my LinkedIn angle of myself. It would be more relevant for the discussion as well. Just look at my picture for one piece of evidence – that is not my going to work face 🙂

  • This is sweet!! love this feature (is it well said?) anyway, thank you for letting us know.
    my best regards

  • Wow! What a bold statement you have their. Going against with google. Facebook just seemed to be new in the industry. Not all online users though loves facebook or spends more time with it.

    But, lets face it, everyone is connected now a days. Great challenge you set out there!

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  • I mentioned the “liquid network” concept in an earlier comment. Here is a post I wrote on it last night. The key point is that all of us are loyal to content that matters to us…we morph to where we can find it, along with our friends, who ultimately provide us with the insights and knowledge that supplements this content flow. The result is our network flows as we want. Interested in your thoughts.

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