Google Friend Connect is a widget featured on many blogs, and most Blogger sites. Google Friend Connect integrates your Google/Blogger Account, Google Reader, and Blog together seamlessly (though trickier if you try to unsubscribe from a site). It highlights hundreds of beautiful followers in your blog sidebar. In short, it's a great, popular tool for building up followers: it allows readers to easily subscribe to your site, gives readers an easy platform for reading blogs, and promotes the reader, too.
Last week Google announced they was closing down 7 products that weren't as successful as they'd like– including the Google Friend Connect. Google says,
Google Friend Connect—Friend Connect allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding a few snippets of code. We’re retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google+ and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch. (Source)
With this change, the biggest hurdle bloggers will have to face is the potential loss of followers. Google has not announced whether, for other other platforms that can use the feature, if they will migrate the feed for Google Friend Connect followers straight in to Google Reader. For bloggers, this could result in a staggering decrease in traffic.
Kendi Everyday has over 11,000 followers in Google Friend Connect; Kendi's one of the lucky bloggers on Blogger, who won't lose that traffic or subscription base. Whereas a blog like Smile and Wave, who has nearly 5000 followers on Google Friend Connect, may lose her followers since her site is hosted on TypePad.
Transferring to a Google+ Page:
Google is encouraging bloggers to create new Google + pages in lieu of their old Google Friend Connect account. This means we will have to pour time and energy promoting a new tool & service to our followers, while attempting to regain those that may have been lost. Google Friend Connect won't go away until March, giving approximately 4 months to encourage readers to follow us through our RSS Feed or another service (such as BlogLovin') or through a newly minted Google + page.
With the saturation of social media sites, we will each have to decide whether it's in our best interests to spread ourselves thinner managing another social media platform (and one that I'm not entirely sure is taking off). Will you be willing to manage a Google + page for your blog on top of your Twitter and Facebook account, creating content for your site, commenting on other blogs, and the other multiple social media tools we use each day? To be honest, I'm not sure that I would, especially when it would mean rebuilding, from scratch, an audience that had already been existing.
How do you feel about Google announcing the closing of Google Friend Connect? Will your site be impacted greatly? (And be sure to check back at IFB, because as I find out more information I'll be sure to share it!)