Spreading to the Converted

Flock. One of the problems with the ubiquitous Get Firefox! Get Opera! etc. web buttons is that while they might encourage someone unfamiliar with the product to check it out, they’re kind of pointless to someone who already uses your preferred browser. Sure, there’s a sense of, “Hey, this author uses Opera too!” but that’s about all it can do.

To make these a little more useful, on my Flash site, I use JavaScript to switch the button if someone’s using Firefox, and instead promote the Spread Firefox site. I’ve written up a similar method for Opera, though it’s less clear where to send people.

I recently discovered that Flock has taken another approach to solving this problem. As you may recall, Flock is a browser based on Firefox, focusing on social networking. It integrates with blogging sites, photo-sharing sites, bookmark-sharing sites and so on.

The Flockstars Extension expands on this by converting the button into a mini-profile. You fill in information like an avatar, usernames at Flickr, YouTube, etc., and links to your website(s). It generates button code that acts like an ordinary Flock button, but contains all this extra information.

The extension reads this information. Visitors to your site who are using Flock and the extension will see an icon in the toolbar, which will pop up a short profile and a menu of all the facets of your online presence.

It’s a cool idea, and seems to fit perfectly with Flock’s target audience. But it only solves half the problem. The browser promo badge is still there, still taking up space. The fact that the profile data is in the button code doesn’t make a difference; it might as well be stored in a set of META tags in the page head.

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