One of the most ambitious products since Facebook was established, Facebook Connect has pervaded the Web faster and more significantly than most ever thought it would. Since Connect became publicly available six months ago, companies from all industries have used the technology to reach their customers in a more personal way. Using Connect, people playing a game, watching a show, or reading an article can interact with their friends, family and colleagues in real-time. In short, it has started to make most major forms of media more social.
The most recent Connect partner was YouTube. It represented another landmark win for Connect, as two of the most popular social sites of the decade made it easy for their users to engage with content and share it with their friends. In fact, to date, more than 10,000 sites have implemented Connect.
10 of the most interesting cases of Facebook Connect in action, in our view, six months in:
- Back in January, during the inauguration of President Barack Obama, CNN utilized Facebook Connect so viewers could update their Facebook status to describe their thoughts and feelings to one another during the event. The results? More than 1,000,000 people updated their status through the site, an average of 4,000 updates every minute.
- Joost, a video site, embraced Connect back in December. By February, the company noted that Connect users consumed 30 percent more video than non-Connect users.
- Gawker, the popular blogging network, was one of the first media companies to embrace Connect. According to Dave Morin, a senior platform manager at Facebook, the company saw its login (registration) conversion increase by 40 percent.
- Other popular news and tech sites, including CNET and TechCrunch, also embraced Connect. As a result, whenever you comment on a story on one of those sites (while logged into Facebook), that information is published into Facebook.
- An iPhone user who walks by a restaurant can utilize an app called Urbanspoon to read reviews. Using Connect, he can read a review from a person he trusts more than any professional reviewer: His friends.
- During the season finale of the Real Housewives of New York City, fans of the show could log onto Bravo.com and comment on the show using their Facebook ID. According to Facebook, traffic on the site increased 34 percent in unique visitors and 78 percent in page views, versus the prior four-week time frame.
- Using Connect on of the mapmyfitness websites, Facebook users can share their favorite run, hike or bike ride with their Facebook friends.
- Retail websites, such as bagmaker Jansport and shoemaker Vans, allow you to share products with friends and invite them to comment.
- Two weeks ago, Microsoft announced Facebook Connect for Xbox. Once launched, Connect will allow Xbox players to publish the actions they take in their games to their Facebook News Feed, in the form of screenshots and replays. Microsoft’s competitor, Nintendo, launched a similiar product.
- In perhaps one of the most innovative moves to date, Prototype, a new video game, customized its trailer promoting the title by embedding bits of your Facebook profile into it.
The examples go on from there, but we believe the world has only begun to scratch the surface of Connect. There remain many industries that could further benefit from the technology. Most urgently, traditional media companies, particularly newspapers, should embrace Connect more rapidly. They continue to have difficulty retaining and monetizing their audiences online; adding social interactions for their readers through Connect would help. Television should continue in its efforts to make their programs more social by using Connect. CNN, as we noted, has been off to a good start.
Connect would also benefit from more outreach to normal Facebook users. While the technology might seem simple and straightforward within tech circles in Silicon Valley (and the media, analysts and businesses that follow Facebook), millions of Facebook users likely haven’t the slightest idea a technology such as Connect exists. Connect adds authenticity to our interactions on the Web, and we hope to see even more interesting cases in the next six months.