Google Social Toolbar

I’m ready to vent here.  Are we, as community builders, becoming so lazy that we don’t want to take the time to build in the social media features we want for our sites, the way we want them?  Do we really need to have Google package them up and provide them for us, the way they want them?

Two days ago, Google announced they were releasing the Google Social Toolbar, which is really a misnomer, as it isn’t really a toolbar at all, rather it’s a toolpack that site owners can embed in their sites.  From Techcrunch:

Basically, the social bar is a small strip that webmasters can layer on top of any web page, either at the top or at the bottom. That way, website visitors are provided with a bit of information, and the bar also lets them interact with any social feature the site incorporates through drop-down gadgets. As Software Engineer Christopher Wren explains in the announcement blog post, this is a good way to save on pixel space and keep putting the actual content of the site forward first.

The Google Social Web blog explains:

  • On the far left, visitors can join your site, see their identity, and edit their profiles and settings.
  • Your visitors can also delve into your site’s activity stream to see what’s happening throughout your site. It includes links to recent posts made anywhere on your site, helping other visitors quickly find where the hottest conversations are taking place.
  • The wall gadget can host a discussion for the whole site, a section of pages, or each individual page, letting your visitors easily read and leave comments.
  • Lastly, visitors can see the other members of your site, check out their profiles to see how like-minded they really are, and even become friends.

These are for the most part functions that you should have addressed on your site by proper design (have I not told you that social media is an important tool in your toolbox?).  Why would you want discussion about your site going on at another site, where the readers are seeing ads from which you do not profit?  If discussion is needed on your site, add it, but for God’s sake don’t hand that traffic and it’s revenue over to Google for free.

We are looking for good value adds for our sites, such as the ability to share content ala Facebook Connect.  What we don’t need is a convenient way to off load our revenue generating traffic.

If you’re going to build and manage a site, then do it.  If you want Google to do it for you, then don’t come running to me when you want to “monetize it”.

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