AOL Deploys Socialthing Across the Web

Today, AOL announced that they’re deploying Socialthing for Websites across the company’s network of 75+ MediaGlow web properties. The service transforms static sites into social web destinations by allowing visitors to share their experiences across other social properties like Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, and more. It also allows for real-time interactions while on the site, thanks to AIM and ICQ integration.

Socialthing, once considered a competitor to fellow lifestreaming service FriendFeed, still exists as a social media aggregation portal (in private beta) at where users can stream their activities from across the social web. After AOL purchased Socialthing last year, they soon integrated the technology into their social networking site, Bebo, where it served as a tool to import social web activity into Bebo’s version of the News Feed.

Now, with the introduction of Socialthing for Websites, a service that made a quiet debut last week on AOL’s country music destination “The Boot,” AOL is transforming all their media properties into social media properties.

How it Works

With Socialthing, web site visitors can sign in to the various web sites using their AOL screenname and password, and soon their Bebo, Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, or OpenID, instead of having to create a new account on the site. This ability puts it up against other single sign-in heavyweights like Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. The authentication is made possible by the AOL Open Authentication (OpenAuth) Platform which allows sites to authenticate users using AOL and AIM usernames and passwords and is now being expanded to support the other services as well.

In addition, visitors can also chat with each other over AIM and ICQ while on the site itself, a feature that allows for real-time interactions between those who share common interests.

And then there is, of course, the social syndication aspect. Site visitors will be able to share messages and experiences across the social web including sites like Bebo, AIM, ICQ, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Socialthing Differentiates Itself from FriendFeed & Competes with Facebook Connect

The authentication aspect, the active social sharing, and the online chat now set the new Socialthing for Websites apart from its one-time competitor FriendFeed. Today’s Socialthing service is much more than a simple lifestream aggregator – it’s a tool that can transform closed sites into social web portals. But will Socialthing pick up any traction outside of AOL’s own properties? It could since the platform is open for developers to build services on top of it or integrate it into their own sites. That may actually have some appeal over, say, Facebook Connect for example, since it won’t limit you to sharing your content with just one social networking site.

However, now that Facebook has opened up their data streams to developers, it’s clear that the battle for conversation control is just getting started. Despite Socialthing’s open nature, it’s possible they’ll still have a tough time competing considering the Facebook revolution that’s currently underway.

AOL says Socialthing will launch on their blog for movie enthusiasts, Cinematical, in the “coming weeks” before rolling out the technology to the rest of their sites.

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