Facebook Tests New Home Page Prompts For Its Friend Finder

Facebook is testing at least three new ways of directing users to the Friend Finder, a tool that employs the multi-friend-selector to import email contacts and send invites to join Facebook to those without accounts. Some users, including theharmonyguy, are seeing a headline on the home page above the news feed encouraging them to “Try Friend Finder”, or a panel in the home page’s right sidebar above Requests with input fields for email address and password. Facebook Impact, which tracks the number of invites to Facebook you’ve sent your friends, has also been redesigned. These tests and changes will help Facebook determine the most effective way of persuading users to ask friends to join the site.

The Friend Finder was previously linked to from the Get Connected section of the home page’s right sidebar under “Who’s On Facebook? Find your friends”, but required an extra click before submitting your email address. When a user enter their email address on one of these home page tests, Facebook checks to see if their email provider offers an authorization API such as OAuth, like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Windows Live Mail do. If it does, the password field disappears and a permissions box pops up, allowing the user to give Facebook access to their email account without explicitly providing their password.

If their email provider does not support API authorization, the user will have to type in their password. To assure users, the home page headline includes a link stating “Facebook will not store your password”, which leads to details as to how Facebook will utilize email access. Those who don’t want any information saved are directed to the “Remove Imported Contacts” page.

In other cases, the “Try Friend Finder” button automatically opens an authorization prompt for the email provider associated with the Facebook account’s primary email address. Once a user has entered their password or given authorization, Facebook imports their email contacts, determines which aren’t linked to current Facebook accounts, and allows a user to send them invitations.

After invitations are sent, users can track them at Facebook.com/impact. This page once included rows of icons that would fill in as you invited more friends, but these graphics have been replaced with a scoreboard and a large “Invite More Friends” button, or a link back to the multi-friend-selector if you haven’t invited anyone. Impact still provides users with a custom invite link they can share, and “Who’s brought the most friends so far” rankings, but is less cluttered and competitive now, having removed the tally of invites accepted and showing rankings for five friends instead of nine.

This push to get users to invite friends comes amongst other efforts to spur growth, including a Facebook blog post reminding app developers to integrate the multi-friend-selector. By testing different Friend Finder placements, authorization flows, and tracking interfaces Facebook can determine which method makes users feel most comfortable with sharing email access and helping the site grow. However, Facebook should be careful not to make users feel like they are merely a gateway to more sign ups through incessant or distracting prompts to send invites.