I’ve been doing a few experiments this last week as I’ve been sitting in Tel Aviv waiting for my batter replacement to show up. They involve Facebook and Google:
Facebook Fan Pages
I’ve not put a ton of effort into my fan page in the past. Honestly, there are serious limitations with what you can do with a fan page. In fact, I have never even done the “suggest this page to a friend” thing, and I have over 500 Facebook friends. I did that a few days ago and increase my fan page followers from about 400 to 561 as of me writing this. Most of that has come from friends who didn’t know about the fan page.
The reason why I decided to pay some attention to the fan page is pretty simple: pages are now showing up along with profiles in the “people you may know” feature. That means the more people who join your page, the more people will have your page suggested to them. It is literally viral.
I don’t care about the fan page so much as a platform to actually communicate with people. I might set up an application to push out the RSS feed, but that’s it. It mostly serves the same purpose as an email list. The point being, given the mechanics of Facebook, it can be a great way to introduce yourself to people who may have no idea about you or what you are doing.
The next step would be to get a few key people to do the “suggest this page to a friend” to their friend list. If they are college kids with a huge friend list, that can grow the page in a hurry.
Googe Friend Connect
This is something which I think is really underrated. Google launched this a few months ago and only a handful of sites have added it. It is basically a widget where people can “join” your site. It then shows a bunch of small images for each person. It isn’t really a way to communicate with readers, doesn’t build links, nor does it directly drive traffic. Why do it?
There are three big reasons: 1) If you use Google Reader in addition, the site you joined will appear in Google Reader under “Blogs I’m Following”. This can add to your subscriber count. 2) The social validation of people with faces can give you a bit of cred. 3) I’m convinced that Google is, or soon will, use this data as part of its search algorithm. I’m guessing it will be factored into the domain trust or authority of a site. Google accounts are hard to fake. If you have people on Friend Connect, you have some real readers. This can be used as part of a profile to tell Google “I am a real site and have real readers”. I saw an increase of about 33% in search traffic after I installed the widget. I can’t prove it was casused by Friend connect, but I think it had something to do with it.
This weekend I put out a call on Twitter for people to join and I got 45 more in a few days.
I don’t plan on putting a ton of effort into either one of these, but I do think they deserve some attention for any blogger. If nothing else, get a fan page and put up the Friend Connect widget. (although I’m not going to bother for this site)