Modeled after Facebook's "Like" button, Google's +1 button is a social Web widget for promoting user engagement and generating audience data for website publishers. Introduced on Google websites in March and offered to third-party sites two months ago, the +1 button has gone from being served 2.3 billion times a day in mid-July to over 4 billion times a day presently.
Vic Gundotra, Google SVP of engineering, on Wednesday said in a blog post that Google+ users can now click on +1 buttons and share Web page content directly with their Google+ Circles. What's more, Google has added what it is calling "+snippets" to enhance +1 button sharing with images and descriptive text.
When used in conjunction with Google+, the +1 button will call up a +snippet--a link, image, and description--that will get shared among the user's chosen friends, along with any added commentary. These +snippets make sharing a more graphically rich experience and are thus likely to generate better click-through rates for publishers.
The concept is similar to Facebook news feed link sharing, except that +snippets are not editable. On Facebook, the user can alter the headline and body text description associated with the shared link.
Editing can be useful because publishers often append a website name or other information to headline text, trading readability for self-promotion. Editing that content prior to sharing often results in a more comprehensible and appealing news feed post.
With +snippets, the user is forced to share the name, image, and description elements as coded by the publisher. However, this may be less of an issue if Google encourages publishers to fill in descriptive metadata fields accurately, without extraneous promotional text.
In a post to Google's webmaster blog, group product manager Daniel Dulitz notes that the updated +1 button code also allows inline annotations--the presentation of pictures of Google+ friends--on pages that have implemented the +1 button.
Google is making these new features available to those who have chosen to participate in the Google+ platform preview. The company plans to make the features available for everyone on Google+ over the next week or so.
Facebook, perhaps not coincidentally, is reportedly working to enhance its Like button.
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