In recent months, Google has been aggressively working to blur the line between search and social (see the extensive list of related articles below). Nowhere is this more evident than in their attempt to make Google+, the search giant’s social platform, an integral part of the organic search experience. When signed into their Google+ accounts, users’ Google search results have now been all but completely taken over by social recommendations – Google’s attempt to provide ‘customized’ content relevant to your search (‘Search, plus Your World’). Now, not only can you see who of your friends have +1′d something in your search results, but you also have the ability to thank them for doing so.
That’s right – good old manners. According to Google, if a friend gave you a good recommendation in person, you would thank them. Thinking along those same lines, when a friend’s +1 helped you find something you were looking for or were interested in, you can thank the person by clicking the ‘Thank’ link and including a short message directly through Google+. The post of gratitude then shows up on your wall as well as your friend’s stream.
When thanking a friend through Google+, you have the option to add more people to the list of your appreciation message recipients by making it public or selecting individuals from your Circles and your Extended Circles. You can also disable comments or lock the post.
At the moment, this feature seems to have a mind of its own, only making sporadic appearances within search results. At times, you can only see who in your Circles have +1′d the content, but not thank them. Either way, initial consumer response appears to be one of perplexity. With no official notification provided to users prior to rolling out the new feature, many of the ‘Thank you’ messages have been met with confusion. People just aren’t sure what it is exactly they’re being thanked for.
This change could simply be a sign to show that good manners are still important to Google. More likely, however, it’s a way to increase consumer engagement on Google+, a social platform that continues to receive criticism for its extensive community, a very small portion of which are actually active on the site. As always, we’ll keep you updated as the Google+ phenomenon continues to evolve…