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Feb 9, 2011 | 3 minute read

7 Best Practices for Facebook Connect on Ecommerce Sites

written by Linda Bustos

Last post we looked at the many ways online retailers are plugging into Facebook Connect. Today we'll look at seven important things to remember when using Facebook Connect on your site.

7 Recommendations for Facebook Connect

1. Location, location, location.

Ask for the connect at the right place and time. Avoid using those pop-up window requests some sites use for customer surveys and email sign ups. It's not just because users hate pop-up windows more than waiting in line at the passport office. If prompted too early, they may decline the request, then not know how to get it back when they decide they want to connect. (This is not to say pop-ups upon arrival are not effective for customer surveys and email sign ups.)

Instead, use a passive call to action placed where it makes most sense to connect. For example, the product review section, account creation page, community areas/features, or post-purchase.

2. Presentation, presentation, presentation.

Because Facebook Connect is a call to action, it can compete with your default CTAs. You want your Facebook Connect button to get noticed, but not create confusion or dwarf other options.

Widgetbox's subtle approach presents the Connect button apart from regular sign up. Though it's not distracting, it may easily be overlooked.

I recommend using the Facebook Connect button, rather than Facebook's Login button. It's unclear what the login is for. "If you already have an account" could refer to a Widgetbox account or Facebook, which is a point of confusion.

Another thing to avoid is presenting too much choice. The more options you give a user, the less likely he or she is to take you up on any of them.

In this example, the option to connect with Facebook is presented along with OpenID and "Create new account."

Visually separating Facebook Connect from the regular Log In and Create Account buttons/links can help.

Consider nixing Open ID and other universal authentication methods to simplify. So far, Facebook Connect is the leader in usage. There's a good chance your customer has never heard of Open ID.

3. Spell it out.

Make sure you address these FUDs (fears, uncertainties and doubts):

  • What happens when I connect?
  • What data is shared between Facebook and your site?
  • Is it easy to disconnect?
  • What is the benefit of connecting?

As usual, Amazon is a great example.

4. Take only what you need.

The Connect dialog box will disclose exactly what data you will be accessing. Like a web form, ask for only the information you need for the functionality your Connect features will provide. Amazon's personalization requires access to a whack of data, so requesting permission for it all is necessary.

EyeBuyDirect has a simpler application, thus asks for access to basic information only.

5. Make it easy to unplug.

Amazon provides a clear link to change your Facebook Connect status, and provides the point-of-action assurance that you can reconnect at any time.

6. Respect privacy.

Respect the privacy of the Connected Facebooker's friends. Teavana uses a zipcode lookup where you can find friends, friends of friends and stranger-neighbours.

Teavana abbreviates surnames to just an initial, while other sites use the full name. It's a better idea to protect the real names of users when exposing them to strangers.

What about security?

A Get Elastic reader asked a question about PCI-DSS compliance and Facebook Connect. According to my expert source, Gary Palgon of the SIG PCI-DSS Council, Facebook Connect is not PCI-DSS compliant, as it doesn't require secure protocols to transfer information. Facebook Connect can use SSL which would help make it PCI-DSS compliant, but it's not a requirement. However, that may change, as Facebook seems to be beefing up its security. If/when secure protocols are required, it will be compliant.

7. Be a star performer.

Performance is important. Scripts that slow down a user's browser are a sure fire way to get "disconnected." Your implementation should be smooth and bug-free.

The Levi's Friends Store interfered with my Facebook inbox. After disconnecting, it worked fine.

Are you connected?

Have you had success with Facebook Connect on your online store or retail blog? Have you had a great experience as a Facebook user Connecting with an online store? Please leave a comment!