Two months ago, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Connect, the new way for website owners to integrate Facebook’s authentication and social features anywhere on the web. Tonight, CBS’s celebrity gossip site TheInsider.com has become the first major launch partner to go live with Facebook Connect on its site.
Here’s how it works:
1. When you go to TheInsider.com, you’re presented with two login options: using the site’s login system or using Facebook Connect.
2. If you’re not already logged into Facebook, you’re prompted with a Facebook authentication page where you enter your Facebook email address and password.
3. Upon logging in, TheInsider.com chooses a username for you (in my case “JustinS4”) and uses your Facebook profile picture as your TheInsider.com avatar.
4. When commenting on an article on the site, a Facebook Connect dialog box appears prompting you to approve the publishing of a feed story about your action on the site on Facebook. You can choose the size of the feed story you’d like to approve, and you can choose to save your setting so that feed stories are automatically published in the future.
5. After approving the story, it appears on your Facebook profile, using TheInsider.com’s favicon for the story and linking directly out to the article on TheInsider.com. This story is likely to be syndicated to friends’ News Feeds, providing significant brand exposure and potential traffic to TheInsider.com.
6. While on TheInsider.com, you can also choose to invite your friends to the site. A Facebook multi-friend selector dialog box appears over the page, and looks much like the invite UI Facebook Platform applications are required to use.
7. The friend request appears just like any other Facebook request on the recipient’s home page. Interestingly, the request reads, “I’d like to add you as a friend on The Insider.” Clicking confirm takes you to TheInsider.com.
8. When logging out of TheInsider.com when logged in using Facebook Connect, you are also logged out of Facebook.
Overall, Facebook Connect is a pretty seamless experience for users. It’s easy to login, the privacy implications are clear (you’re always asked before information about your activity is published in your feed), and it’s powerful to “bring your social network with you” to other sites on the web while still sharing information back into Facebook.
Clearly, Facebook Connect adds a lot of value for TheInsider.com. Not only are activity streams and content being shared with wide audiences – bringing more traffic – but user engagement is likely to significantly increase due to the increased social context.
Facebook Connect looks solid, and is a win for both users and webmasters. For developers interested in integrating Facebook Connect with your site, check out these Facebook Connect developer docs or Inside Facebook’s guide to integrating Facebook Connect with your website.