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Google Friend Connect, what GFC does, why to use it and why you should Friend Connect your blog.

So, if you are like me when I first heard about Friend Connect in May of 08, I thought Google, why don’t you stay out of my territory. You don’t belong here and I do not install every widget piece of junk on my site.

Then I dug deeper, and deeper yet. Then I started to see where this was going, and then it really got deep. The Google Friend Connect widget is just the beginning of something much larger and what comes next blows most away.

GFC: Poster boy for Google Social Networking

Google Friend Connect is just the pretty face of a much larger application that should be called Google Social Networking. Here it is in a nutshell.

There are five major pieces to Google’s social features.

GFC

Google Reader

Gmail

Google profiles

Your shared items

Here is what Happens in Google Friend Connect:

You join a blog through the Google Friend Connect widget.

When you do this the RSS feed should be added to your Google Reader.

Then you can add other members showing in the Google Friend Connect widget as friends by clicking their avatar as they can yours.

When they accept your friend request (become mutual friends) you both appear in each others Gmail contacts and Gchat if you wish. You don’t get some interface that masquerades as email like Facebook’s inbox. You get a real email address that you and your new friend uses everyday to log into sites to use GFC.

Why are real email addresses important? You can now add this email address to your address book in say Outlook and you OWN your friends list. Get kicked off Facebook for some silly reason like many do? There goes your contact list. Not with GFC, Gmail is your contact management system for Google friends.

Your Google Reader can display their Google Reader shared items and you will show in their Google Reader. This is social bookmarking.

Your shared items has an RSS feed that creates HTML a tags that are outgoing links from Google to your site and are fully followed. So when someone shares (or bookmarks as most call it) one of your blog posts in Google Reader they are creating an incoming link directly to your site.

So what will Google Friend connect do for you?

I tripled my RSS subscribers in a week, made 200 new contacts that I now have in my address book and Gmail contacts, not some closed loop dependent on Facebook’s whims.

I have those same friends sharing my best articles in their Google Readers and I share theirs. All the while we all are creating backlinks to our own articles as well right in Google.

Now, my GFC friends have friends of there own and they have my RSS feed installed in Google Reader. So when they share my best blog posts their friends have the chance to read my best work. AND share it with their friends, and them with their friends. Viral marketing at it’s best.

You can email them, chat right from Gchat and get to know what would otherwise be nameless, faceless, social contacts all spamming each other for a few visitors. This is why social marketing fails for most, your friends are totally untargeted, you know little about them and you get a ton of spam for some stupid group and you end up not even wanting to open that inbox.

What is the best feature of Google Friend Connect?

The other day Google Latitude came out. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So I jumped on Gmail and started a few chats with people that follow me and read my blogs. I was instantly able to find out if my target market would be interested in the blog post I was about to write and I learned what my fellow GFC uses wanted to know about Google Latitude.

I got feedback, (hated it and loved it), I found out limitations that otherwise I may have missed (because I love it) and got to know some of my readers a bit better. Time spent, 20 minutes. Value? PRICELESS. My Google friends submitted my site to other social sites, bookmarking sites and emailed links to their friends.

Why? Because we found each other through laser targeted niche content on sites we both liked enough to join through the GFC widget.

What else is there?

Google does WAY more than this, but I just don’t have all day or the space here it explain it. But if this got you as excited as I was when I discovered these new features in Google you want my free Google Friend Connect [http://googlingsocial.com/gfc-tactics.php] tutorial on my new site.

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