As Internet users, we are becoming increasingly dependent on our social networks for a number of daily activities. We communicate with friends and family, share photos, invite and get invited to events and generally interact with the world around us. The social network is becoming the heart and soul of our Internet experience and Gigya will announce a range of new features this Thursday to help websites take full advantage of the roll of social media in today's online environment.

We spoke with David Yovanno, CEO of Gigya, this morning about the different ways people are using the Internet, how this has changed from the old model and how Gigya can help.

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The Feed - Our Passively Interactive Web

"It used to be, users search the Internet on their own," Yovanno told us. "Today, they look at what their friends are doing. Only something like 5% of the time you spend online is you actually searching for something."

The big change he's seen recently, he told us, is the concept of the feed as the center of our online interaction. We spend more time letting information passively approach us, by way of our friends, than actively searching for it. At the same time, by the very nature of the "feed", we share information for our friends to see, who see it as part of their feed.

"Consumers have transitioned or added on top of email the idea of a feed," he told us.

Yovanno said that Gigya has been working with Microsoft recently on its social strategy and he expects to see Microsoft's take on a feed interface in the near future.

Gigya recently changed its direction to focus primarily on social media and interaction, so it's betting on the fact that the feed will become ever more important in driving traffic.

Social Media Is The New Search

In a recent article, Marshall Kirpatrick showed us how, for the first time, social networking sites had surpassed search engines in driving traffic. Yovanno explained that many website are noting this trend and switching strategies.

"Social media is representing a larger and larger mix of traffic compared to search," Yovanno said. "Sites are starting to wake up to the fact that they need to make some of those same level of investments in social as they did for search."

Whereas search engine optimization was the primary focus of sites in search of traffic, many are now realizing that social interaction is quickly becoming a driving force.

What Gigya provides to this end is a way to not only let users login to a website using a number of different social media identities, from Twitter to LinkedIn to Facebook Connect, but also to create content that will be seen on those sites' feeds without ever leaving the website they're on.

A simple example of this can be seen on this article. If you log in using Facebook Connect to leave a comment, after you enter the comment and click "Send" a little window will pop up allowing you to share your comment in your Facebook feed.

Gigya 4 - The New Features

Thursday's roll-out of Gigya 4 includes three primary new feature sets - increased connectivity, enhanced user interaction and analytics.

Gigya allows users to sign into a website using a number of different social identities, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and OpenID in more than 20 different languages. One they're logged in, Gigya also provides a number of on-site widgets to allow for interaction and sharing, from inviting friends from other social media sites to chatting to sharing content in an off-site stream. Then, after everything is said and done, Gigya's new social optimization platform provides you with analytics on how users are interacting with your content, other users, and their social networks.

"Our business, at the core, is a technology of connectivity," Yovanno explained. "We create an abstract layer on top of Facebook Connect, LinkedIn's open platform, Twitter ... and we give a website a single API to write to."

The provision of a so-called "super API" is clutch to the emerging social network atmosphere we find ourselves in today.

Yovanno pointed out that there are a number of networks available and, even though Facebook is the leading social network, it entirely depends on the audience for what network will be the most popular when users are given a choice. The more choices a website offers, the more likely a user will chose to log in using their social identity and therefor be able to share information about the site on their feed.

The "super API", then, is key to providing as many login options as possible without having to constantly keep up with changing requirements from an ever-growing number of social networks.

Perhaps we were a bit premature in saying that Facebook was going to become your "one true login", as services like Gigya will make sure that you'll be able to continue using any number of social network identities to sign in and share. In the end, we find it more likely that the number of logins will continue to grow and Gigya's gamble will ultimately pay off.