AOL announced Socialthing, a new platform that brings social networking services to websites and enables publishers to attract new users and keep them engaged wherever they are on the Web. It will launch on AOL's movie blog site, Cinematical, in the coming weeks and will eventually extend to all of AOL's network of sites.
“Socialthing turns any media into social media, making it easy for people to share their experiences in real time with their friends, wherever they are on the Web,” said Joanna Shields, President of AOL People Networks. “Built on AOL’s best-of-breed messaging technology, unrivaled social networking and media aggregation tools, Socialthing enables users to converse, connect and broadcast messages and their activities to friends on the Web.”
Socialthing combines four powerful elements to provide website owners with the reach and functionality that formerly could only be found on large social networks:
- Unified Sign-on makes it easy for users to log into Socialthing today using their AOL screenname and password, and soon using their Bebo, Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo or OpenID, without having to create a new account.
- Social Syndication will unlock the marketing power of users by letting them automatically share their experiences with their social network, including their Bebo, AIM, ICQ, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter friends.
- On-site Chat and Instant Messaging lets users engage in real-time conversations with others who share the same passions as they do.
- An Open Platform will enable third-party developers to build their applications on top of the Socialthing platform, helping them increase distribution and add value to site owners and their audience.
Socalthing will deliver users a consistent core experience across its partner sites and is enabled by three core technologies:
- The Lifestream Platform is a real-time, open platform for aggregating and distributing social feeds across different mediums. Lifestream on Socialthing lets websites unleash the power of social syndication by letting users broadcast their activities to all their Bebo, AIM, ICQ, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, and Twitter friends. Socialthing’s distributed architecture lets updates from one Socialthing-enabled site to be distributed on other Socialthing sites, on mobile devices such as the iPhone and through the AIM and ICQ desktop clients, further increasing each site’s reach.
- The AIM & ICQ Messaging Platform brings the power of chat and Instant Messaging directly to Socialthing-enabled websites. After logging into Socialthing users will be able to join public conversations in the site’s chat rooms and communicate directly with any other user who is also logged into Socialthing on that site. The combination of Lifestream and IM makes it easy to alert AIM and ICQ buddies to breaking news and interesting stories from across the Web.
- The AOL Open Authentication API (OpenAuth) Platform currently enables third-party websites and applications to authenticate AOL and AIM users through their websites and applications. OpenAuth is now being extended so that it will include support for single sign-on from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, OpenID and many other services. This decreases the friction for user participation on a publisher’s site while helping the site create richer profiles for their users.
Socialthing boasts a simple interface that makes it easy for even the most novice user to enjoy the benefits of social networking. Upon arriving to a Socialthing-enabled website, users sign-in using their existing credentials or create a Socialthing ID using only an email address and password.
Privacy settings for sharing content mean the user is in control of publishing activity at all times. Whenever an action is taken on a site, Socialthing asks for the user’s consent to publish their action into a Lifestream that is then distributed to their friends.
Socialthing lets publishers insert their own content such as news articles or breaking news directly into the feed, creating direct engagement with users on the site. Publishers can also turn their content into conversations by offering signed-in users the ability to enter public chatrooms and launch an Instant Messaging window directly from the site. Users can preview a chat before they engage in it and decide whether they want to use the built-in Instant Messenger, which lets them connect with all of their AIM, ICQ and Bebo buddies in real-time.
A site has been created at http://socialthing.com/forwebsites allowing publishers, interested in enabling Socialthing on their sites, to gain further information and insight into the platform.