If you use Twitter or Facebook, then we have something cool for you. I am happy to announce that we have released a new version of the Alexa Toolbar for Firefox. This new version supports an improved site stats button, and gives you direct access to both Twitter and Facebook while you browse.
Getting the Buttons
If you want to try the new buttons, the first thing you need to do is install or upgrade to the latest version of the Firefox toolbar. If you use IE don't worry, we will be adding them to the Alexa Toolbar for IE soon. Once installed you should see the new buttons at the right hand edge of the toolbar. If not, click on the little down arrow next to the Alexa icon and select "Add Buttons...". This will take you to Alexa's button page, where you can choose which ones you want to add. If you want to remove a button, choose "Organize Buttons..." from the Alexa icon drop down menu and select a button for removal. It's easy!
I know I am biased, but I really love the new social networking buttons. We've worked hard to create tools that we want to use ourselves, and I think we've come up with something that casual and power users alike will find useful. Of course we want to hear what you think, so please post your opinions (or bug reports) in our help forums.
The Facebook button was designed to help you keep track of what your friends are saying, and allow you to interact with them without leaving the page you're currently on. Once you've logged in, which you might have to click on the button to do, you will see the profile photos of the last three posts to your News Feed (updated every 5 minutes) to the right of the Facebook icon. If you click on a photo, you can read the status update and any comments, like it, or leave a comment. As new comments appear, the Facebook logo will flare to let you know there is something new.
Clicking on the Facebook logo will allow you to post a link to the page you're currently on to your Facebook wall. Found something you like and want to share? Click the icon, write a message (or not), and share. It's easy, and you never have to leave the page you're on. Using the Facebook icon drop down menu, you can also refresh the faces, open up your wall, or log out of Facebook. This is my new favorite way to interact with Facebook, especially when I'm busy, and the button has even made some Facebook converts here at Alexa.
The Twitter button is similar to the Facebook button, but designed with the idea that you're going to want to keep up with more than just the last few Tweets. If you're not already logged into Twitter, clicking on the icon will prompt you to. Once logged in, the icon's drop down menu will display the past 20 tweets from the people you follow (updated every five minutes). The Twitter icon will flare when there are new updates, and the drop down menu also allows you to refresh your feed.
Clicking in the Twitter icon will allow you to tweet directly from the toolbar, and if you want to add a bit.ly URL for the page you're currently on you can do that too. Adding the URL is optional, though, since tweeting is about more than just sharing content. We also don't prompt you to follow Alexa's Twitter feed, although you are welcome to if you want.
As with previous versions of the Alexa Toolbar, if you click on a site's Alexa Rank in the toolbar you will be taken to it's Site Info page on the Alexa website. Now, though, if you click on the site stats button, the toolbar will display a short highlight of the Site Info page. This means you can quickly and easily see how a site is ranked internationally, get an estimate of the number of sites linking to it (a measure of SEO), and get a little more insight into how well reviewed the site is. All without leaving the page that you're on.
I hope I was able to share some of the excitement I have over these new features. We're constantly trying to make the Alexa Toolbar more useful. Download the updated version now, and let us know what you think.