Back in July (when the weather was a little sunny and not bitterly cold) i wrote a blog post about using your Facebook profile on Digg. Just to recap, it was regarding the rather great ability to use your Facebook profile to login to Digg without registering an entire new Digg account, on top of that it also allows Digg to post information back to your wall as a news feed to let all your friends know what you have been Digging.
Well after allowing websites like Digg, and Stumbleupon to use Facebook connect it seems that the big FB are set to allow any website to use Facebook Connect on November the 30th and you should be quickly scurrying to work out how you are going to incorporate it into your site. Here’s why and how…
Firstly. The Why?
There are really three major reasons why you should be using Facebook connect on your website, and i am sure that as the platform progresses, there will become many many more.
- Users can use their existing Facebook profiles to login to your site:
Whilst many people may think that not having users register with you could damage your site, this probably will not be the case at all. I am sure there has been many a time that you or I have come to a website for some information only to find that you have to go through a long registration process to get the information you want. I can certainly say that i have hit the back button and got the info from elsewhere. With Facebook connect your users can simply hit the Facebook login button, find the information they want, and stay on your site.
- You get information back about the user:
Amongst other things, Facebook can tell you how many of the user’s friends are already members of your site. You can put a link somewhere that says, “Three of your friends already use the site – invite them to connect.” This can dramatically increase engagement of your existing users by drawing them back to your site. Not only this you can show the friends activity on a page within your site, so that users have yet another reason to return.
Facebook also let you pull certain information about the user such as basic profile info, avatar image etc, this can save you space on your server by hosting everything in a centralised location.
- You get to advertise on Facebook for free:
Whenever a user on your site does an action, you can post this information onto their wall. Obviously i don’t need to tell you how valuable this is, as not only does it appear in the news feed it also encourages their friends to click through onto your site and then we are back to point number 1.
You can see a great example of how Facebook Connect is working on the Facebook Example Site
Secondly. The How?
The first thing to do is go and check out the Facebook Wiki on The Anatomy of a Facebook Connect Site then bring yourself back here, and we’ll go through a few steps incase your still unsure of how to implement it.
Back already? Gee you are a fast reader, ok now take a look at the image below to get an idea about how Facebook Connect works in the background…
So the image above explains how it all works, but how do you put it into your site?
- Download the sample code that is provided by Facebook – This is the code used for their example site and will be a great help.
- The code above will show you all the little neat tricks of Facebook, such as the friends selector, group links, events links, that you can implement to allow users to effectively share your site on Facebook
- You need to go into Facebook and enable the Developers application, if you can’t find it simply do a search for Developers on the Facebook search bar.
- Set up your application using the instructions found in the Facebook wiki
- Insert your application API key into the test code that you downloaded above and visit your demo site. You should now see the Facebook connect login button which will allow you to login using your details.
Finally, just go and read everything on the developers wiki to get yourself up to speed with other features, and then you can start to look to implement the sections of code into your site. Start of by getting the login button working, then by getting some information back from FB about the user. Once you have mastered that you can then get onto the good stuff like writing back to users walls, and allowing them to invite friends to your site.
There is no doubt in my mind that Facebook connect will be a massive step forwarding in bringing around a centralised way of logging into websites and getting meaningful information about your users. From a search marketing perspective you can gain literally hundreds of new visitors a day to your site. If you have a login form then you should be looking at this now.
I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on Facebook Connect, and if you think you will be implementing it on your site.