Over the last several months you’ve probably come across Google’s +1 quite a few times. You may have even clicked it, only to wonder what exactly you’d just accomplished. Because, at least from the user’s perspective, there hasn’t been any reward from clicking on it. You’d push the button for the treat, only to leave empty-handed. That hasn’t stopped the +1 button from getting huge distribution — it’s now on 1 million sites and appears in 4 billion impressions every day, but that growth has had more to do with the fact that it’s Google than it does with the button being useful.
The +1 button has always had a subtle purpose, of course: Google says that it impacts search results, so pages you +1 may show up in your friends’ queries more prominently than they would otherwise. But who knows how often that happens. And while these +1 clicks also get saved in your Google+ profile, they’re not anywhere your friends are going to see them.
Today, that’s changing: Google has just announced that the +1 button will let you share to your Circles on Google+, directly from whatever page you’re browsing. Which means that you have a reason to keep clicking on them.
The feature appears to look pretty straightforward, and lot like Facebook’s ‘Send’ button, which lets you send content to a specific group of Facebook friends.
When you click on the +1 button and elect to share it with your Google+ Circles, you’ll notice that the shared story is pre-populated with both an image and some text from the page (again, Facebook’s sharing features work much the same way). Google is also letting publishers designate exactly which text they’d like to include with these ‘+Snippets’.
This is a big, if obvious, step forward for Google’s +1 button, as it gives users a much bigger incentive to click on them.