Google launch on 3rd December a neat application called Google Friend Connect. This enables webmasters to add social components to their site. To get this up and running doesn't requrie any programming skills as Google have made it very quick and easy to setup. They offer some standard gadgets to customise your mini social world but their is only a currently a handful.
Below is a video from Google showing a brief overview.
The current gadgets that are available are:
The Members gadget is an all-in-one gadget. It allows visitors to:
-Join your site
-Sign in and out
-See pictures of other site members
-See pictures of their friends
-Explore other members’ profiles
-Invite other people to join your site
Sign In gadget
The “Sign In” gadget allows visitors to join your site, sign in and out, and invite people to become members. It doesn’t have all the features of the Members gadget, but it can fit neatly in to a small space.
Allows viewers to post comments, or links to videos on your site.
Allows viewers to rate a page, or a section of a page. Viewers can use this to rate videos, articles, books, photos, songs, or anything else you can imagine. You can put multiple Review/Rate gadgets on one page, one for each item you want viewers to review.
You can put this gadget on your home page and choose the size and colors that fit best for your site.
Google are using the OpenID for sign in which means even if you only have a Yahoo/AOL account you don't have to register to gain access.
I have read quite a lot around this and there doesn't seem to appear to much analysis about how this could be used conversion function.
I do think that there is great potential to give users the chance to talk to each other when looking at products and reviews. You see alot of sites that offer basic out of date FAQ sections this could be seen as a great way to source what your customers want.
I will continue to watch this to see what gadgets come to the surface that could benefit a commerce site.