The big news around the Interweb might be discussing how Google and Bing have both signed deals with Twitter to incorporate tweets in both search engines’ results, but Google is going social with a lot more than just their experimental social search. iGoogle, Google Reader, and even YouTube along with Google’s search are getting in on the social game.
Google Social Search
Google Social Search is a new modification to the standard Google search officially announced earlier this week. Social Search incorporates material that people in your social circle may have generated. This could come in the form of blog articles or microblogging posts from services like Twitter. Social Search will look in content from people you’re friends with on other social services, e-mail, or in your Contacts. The idea is that by implementing these sources, the search results will be more relevant to you.
Or straight from the source:
- Websites, blogs, public profiles, and other content linked from your friends’ Google profiles.
- Web content, such as status updates, tweets, and reviews, from social services that your friends have listed in their Google profiles.
- Relevant articles from your Google Reader subscriptions.
The following people make up your social circle:
Google Social Search isn’t quite a finished product, so you’ll have to enroll in using the product from the Google Experimental Labs. You can only be in one experiment at a time and you can sign up for it here: http://www.google.com/experimental/ and see it in your search results.
iGoogle isn’t really going social itself, but some of its gadgets are. This will allow you to share specific content or play games with your friends who are also setup with the same shared gadget. You’ll need to send an invitation and have them accept it, or vice versa. You may have seen this icon in the corner of some of your gadgets on iGoogle show up recently. It indicates a social gadget.
Click on the social button to see the options that are available to you. They’ll differ per gadget, but should be simple enough to understand and start sharing, even on those gadgets where it doesn’t seem to make much sense to be social with, like a To Do List.
Games make a bit more sense and it seems a new array of games and other gadgets are being launched to make full use of the new social options. If you’d like to find gadgets that have social attributes to them, see this iGoogle Help Page.
For more information on the social iGoogle, you might check out the announcement on the Google Social blog, or read the knowledge base article on social gadgets, or if that’s too much reading, check out this YouTube video:
Well, speaking of YouTube… It is is getting in on the social party as well with quite a few changes which you’ll probably inadvertently stumble upon through your normal interactions on the site if you have a YouTube account. For example, if you were to view a funny video and rate it, you’llget a little box below the rating asking if you want to turn on Autoshare. Autoshare will list a number of your normal activities into a feed that can be automatically shared with Facebook, Twitter, or Google Reader. You can specify which actions make it into the feed and are then shared through your other services.
Beyond Autoshare, there is also just Sharing which can let your friends see your activities easily inside of YouTube. To configure if and what you share, visit the Sharing page under Account Settings.
You can customize your homepage and how it looks, but by default you’ll be greeted with a list of people (from your Google Contacts information) that might be your friends and you might want to subscribe to their activity feed. You can search for your friends on YouTube or send e-mail invitations if they don’t show up automatically through this form. YouTube also has a nice feature with a link near the bottom of any new sections that will provide a summary of your configuration to let you know if others will be able to see your actions, find you, or subscribe to you. In this screenshot, it’s the ‘Can others find me?’ link.
Google Reader, as mentioned in some of the previous new features, is both a medium for social sharing along with having its own new features. The new features for Google Reader include the ability to view recommended sources and popular items, add a tag to an item that you like it, share with your followers or limit access with sharing groups, unshare items, add a note with any items you share, or add a comment to any items your friends share.
If you ever pay attention to the trends page of your Google Reader (it shows stats like number of items you read out of the total published per feed), you’ll notice that a new section for Friends has been added. You’ll also be able to see how many items you shared.
You should also visit the Manage Sharing Settings page if you have any concerns because the default configuration is to share with the public, wide-open.
Of course, Google isn’t just formulaically tacking on social aspects to their exisiting products. They have run their own social networking site, Orkut, since 2004. Since then, though, it has become more popular with Brazil users than those in the U.S.
Google also wants to tap into your community and let you use the social aspects on your own site or blog. With their beta Google Friend Connect service, you can add elements to your site to poll your users, add comments, show Google profiles of who has visited your site, and engage your visitors in a number of other ways.