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Using Facebook Connect for Your Business

Facebook Connect uses social media to inform customers about your business and interact with other customers. Learn how to use it to improve relationships with customers and drive traffic to your site.

According to Wikipedia, Facebook Connect is, “a set of APIs from Facebook that enable users to log onto third-party websites, applications, mobile devices and gaming systems with their Facebook identity.” Advantages of using FB Connect are being able to share information from blogs or multimedia sites with friends and post information that they like to their profile. Having FB Connect benefits a business’ website because it drives more traffic to the site and allows it to advertise on users’ profiles. Often sites like Digg or Vimeo will allow users that log in with Facebook to access features that are unavailable to others.

For customers, using Facebook Connect is simple. When they visit a business’ site, there will be a Facebook Login button that allows them to sign in to the site using their account. By doing so, the company gains access to the user’s basic information and profile at any time, e-mail address, and the ability to post status updates, notes, photos, or videos to his/her wall. Businesses have the option of requesting any combination of this information as a stipulation for whatever extra perks are offered for Facebook Connect users.

For example, CNN The Forum uses FB Connect to allow its users to discuss current events and policy with their friends on the site. This interactive feature establishes a stronger connection with its customer base, giving them the opportunity to debate and discuss with people that they know as opposed to strangers. The video-sharing site Vimeo simplifies the sign-up process for FB users and has the added advantages of users’ likes and uploads going to their news feed. This makes it easier for them to instantly share interesting videos with people in their network.

For business owners interested in integrating Facebook Connect to their pages, there are many sites with a step-by-step process including this one on Devtacular.com. Since significant knowledge of coding is required to add this feature, you may need to hire a developer although Facebook does offer access to web developer tools. The added benefits are features for your customers to rate your business, ask questions and post comments.

When your business uses Facebook Connect, be wary of taking too many liberties with customer information. While you may want to use the customer information for marketing purposes, many people will become upset if you begin to post advertisements to their walls or send e-mails. Most people allow company’s to access their profile information in order to gain added features on the website, not because they are overly passionate about the brand. Spamming users’ mailboxes with ads or company updates demonstrates a disrespect of your customers’ right to privacy. If your customer base would support status updates, photos, or videos posted to their walls, it is a great way to advertise, but be sure to bring them to a halt if you receive negative backlash.

Having a Facebook application will allow users to comment on the company wall and participate in discussions where they can provide feedback on company policies regarding social media and advertising. While these can be useful for feedback, they may also require damage control when there is a flood of negative comments on an issue.

Google Friend Connect is now competing with Facebook Connect for dominance in gaining access to the special features of many websites. One advantage of Google Friend Connect is the scope of its audience, which is much larger than Facebook because it is open to any site, service or social network that uses OpenID. Some of the larger sites that use OpenID apart from Google are AOL, the BBC, MySpace, and Yahoo.

Another advantage is that Google Friend Connect users do not have to belong to a social network, as the only qualification is having a Gmail account. Lastly, for business owners who do not have a lot of technological knowledge in the area of web development Google Friend Connect is more user friendly, although users have complained about its significant number of bugs.

Facebook is expected to hit 750 million users this spring, and it remains the largest social networking site in the world according to Bloomberg Business Week. Other than creating a page, leveraging Facebook Connect has the potential to drive more traffic to your site and add more interactive features for customers including discussions, comments, and multimedia surrounding your business. Fostering your relationship with customers in this way and allowing them to connect with one another around common interests related to your business will enhance your long-term relationship.

It can also provide you with a significant amount of market research information by giving access to profile information including gender, age, and location. However, be wary of abusing this information, as e-mails or Facebook activity that they are not expecting can easily sour the relationship. The most important thing to remember when taking advantage of social media available from Facebook or Google is to offer as many positive incentives as possible while keeping a high level of respect for user privacy.

Sources:

1) Mashable: “10 Great Implementations of Facebook Connect”

2) Facebook Developer Blog: “Announcing Facebook Connect”

3) ClickZ: “Facebook Advertising vs. Advertising Facebook”

4) Fresh Business Thinking: “How Brands Can Use Social Media Effectively”

5) Mashable: “Facebook Connect vs. Google Friend Connect: Fight!”

6) PageRush: "Google Friend Connect vs. Facebook Connect”

 
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