The Google Friend Connect expirement ends

Today I turned the switch off for Google Friend Connect (something I turned on in February 2009). There is now no longer a social bar when you visit (though most of you read this site via RSS).

Google Friend Connect on Business TimesThere are a myriad reasons as to why I disabled it, but it generally boiled down to the fact that I never figured out how to fully use it. I thought it might be useful for blog readers to connect with each other, but thats what the comments are really for.

Running YSlow or Page Speed, the thing that slowed my blog down the most, seemed to be the Friend Connect social bar. This is expected, but for not providing anything additional, I decided to zap it.

The Business Times still has their Friend Connect enabled, but its not the social bar – they’ve preferred going to using the members gadget. Currently, they have 1,327 folk who are members, while 7,051 people like their Facebook page more. I’m thinking more sites will find that a Facebook widget will benefit more in terms of user engagement.

I thought about utilizing Friend Connect to email newsletters to my “fans”. And while there is newsletter support, only about 10% of the people on my site have opted in to receive a newsletter (to be fair, I never did encourage anyone to signup for a newsletter – and this feature was not around before, as far as I remember). That’s a pretty poor conversion rate. There does not seem to be any other way to connect to members – no way to email them.

I also tried this on another website, a community for fashionistas in Malaysia. It was removed rather quickly, because chatboxes are still preferred, in comparison to Friend Connect!

And then there was the other thing… When I loaded up the blog on my iPad, the Friend Connect social bar would stick on the screen. Did not seem very UI friendly, and I had no intention of fixing it.

I’ve not seen Google put much effort behind Friend Connect any longer, and they seem to have other foci when it comes to being social on the Web. Even during their recent DevFest’s, the whole Friend Connect topic seems to have gone silent.

Thanks to all of you that joined the community, made comments, etc. Goodbye Google Friend Connect.