Facebook Connect Charges Forward
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Facebook has come a long, long way from a social network limited to college students. Today, Facebook announced Facebook Connect Wizard, a major enhancement to Facebook Connect, its tool designed to integrate Facebook with other Web sites.
The news follows last night's announcement of another release, Translations for Facebook Connect. Translations is a free tool designed to help simplify the process of translating the content on a Web site into any of the over 65 languages Facebook supports.
Facebook said the new Connect Wizard streamlines the process of implementing Facebook Connect -- which lets users port their account information, photos and links to friends from Facebook to other sites -- down to three easy steps.
The moves give "entrepreneurs of all sizes -- and with varying developer resources -- the ability to build traffic efficiently through reaching a relevant audience, while offering an engaging user experience," Facebook said in a statement.
It's also the latest effort by Facebook to make sure third-party site owners can embed its social networking capabilities into their own sites -- furthering its reach.
In June, Facebook introduced an interactive feature that Web site owners can embed alongside streaming video on their sites, enabling users to chat and post status updates during a live event. Visitors to third-party sites can log in to Live Stream Box using their Facebook Connect credentials, and any updates they post will sync back to their Facebook home pages.
"Establishing a presence on the social Web requires fundamental building blocks. Facebook provides these essential tools, including identity for a great registration system, and immediate access to 300 million active global users," Facebook said in a statement.
Analyst Rebecca Wettemann said it sounds like Facebook is doing the right things to attract more consumers.
"From the consumer perspective, it makes Facebook more sticky," Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, told InternetNews.com. "I think the challenge for Facebook on the enterprise side is that companies are starting to realize how much time their employees are spending on the site and are questioning whether it's worth it."
In a recent study of 237 randomly selected office workers, Nucleus Research found that 77 percent had a Facebook account and nearly two-thirds of those accessed the site during working hours for an average of 15 minutes each day.
Also, among those using Facebook at work, 87 percent said they couldn't define a clear business reason for using it. Nucleus said that data indicates companies effectively lose an average of 1.5 percent of total office productivity when employees can access Facebook during the work day.
"What we're seeing is that people are starting to take their professional contacts off of Facebook so their boss doesn't, for example, see what they did at the beach last week or on that day they were 'sick,'" Wettemann said.
The Facebook Connect news also comes a time when other vendors are looking to capitalize on the booming interest in social networks like Facebook and Twitter by streamlining the process of connecting users to that information.
Earlier this month, AOL announced a major update to its popular Instant Messenger service that simplifies the process of updating status messages and staying connected to friends on Facebook and Twitter. It also includes updates from those services in a new Lifestreams tab in its interface, along with closer ties to services like Google-owned YouTube.
Also in September, Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and T-Mobile unwrapped the Cliq, a mobile phone designed to integrate and simplify access to content streams from social networks while on the go.