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18 Adding Social Features to Your Blog

As blogging evolves one natural track is making your blog more social, more of a community destination.

Two big players, Facebook and Google, want to help you do just that.

Facebook recently announced a new offsite tool called Facebook Connect that allows publishers to give visitors to a blog the ability to sign in using Facebook and then automatically publish their comments on the blog back to Facebook and display Facebook content from their profile to other blog users. The idea is that some of the Facebook features come to life on your blog and stimulate more community and more content.

The process for adding this feature is still a bit techie and involves stepping through the Facebook application developer process, but it’s not that tough.

Here are some resources
Create a Facebook Connect application
Video from Facebook on how to install (pretty technical)
Facebook Connect Plug-in directory

Google’s entry into this space is called Google Friend Connect. In addition to the ability to create a community and add widgets for various types of social interaction, this service allows visitors to use their MySpace, Yahoo, Google or OpenID profiles to sign-in to your blog.

The installation process is very simple. Sign-up, download and install two files that Google gives you and grab the HTML code to install the widget.

Some resources
Google Friend Connect
Video shows you how to install on WordPress blog

There are some good things and some bad things about these initiatives. On one hand they allow more social features and more connection on your site. On the other hand, they can distract and even lead people away from your site.

And, there is a bit of an annoying battle going on here for competing sign-in platforms. OpenID was suppose to be the non denominational, secure single sign-in platform and while it has picked up steam, features like Facebook Connect that still rely on proprietary, closed door sign-in only tends to undercut the OpenId promise. (FYI: Google Friend Connect initially included Facebook log in as part of the tool, but Facebook demanded that it be removed.)