Social bar makes Google Friend Connect even friendlier

When Google rolled out its Friend Connect service in December, the idea was to help small Web publishers add social networking content to their sites quickly and easily. But maybe it wasn't easy enough? Google's now offering what it calls the social bar, which lets sites efficiently add social networking tools via a Google-coded navigation bar. And it hopes that this time, it will be easy enough to spread Google-flavored social networking across the Web.

According to the blog post announcing the tool, Web publishers want to add social networking content to their sites but are hesitant because they don't want to waste any precious screen real estate:

You need your users to sign in, to interact with your site, and to find those like-minded strangers... but pixels are precious, and you're not sure how to make more space alongside the wonderful content that brought people to your site in the first place.

That's where the social bar come in. It lets publishers simply choose the social networking gadgets they want, such as one to view recent posts or a wall gadget for hosting site discussions, and let Google generate the code and package it all up in a navigation bar. Publishers can then cut-and-paste the code to their site, adding the bar to the top or bottom of any page they choose. And Google published this YouTube video to show just how simple the whole process is.

Google's Friend Connect is in hot competition with Facebook's similar Facebook Connect service, which lets Facebook users sign onto other sites, like Hulu or Citysearch, using their Facebook credentials. But while Facebook's service seems aimed at bolstering the usefulness and stickiness of the Facebook site itself (many of its features are aimed at sending user-generated content from other sites back to Facebook), Google's service seems aimed more at spreading social networking capabilities across the Web.

In the end, Google wants to get as many people as possible visiting as many sites as possible and lingering as long as possible--so that they can click on as many ads as possible. And with social bar, it may just have hit on the right formula.

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