Turkeys and Robots Don’t Matter, G+ Buttons On Google Doodles Matter

People are all caught up in today’s Google Doodles but for all the wrong reasons. Yes, there’s a customizable turkey for the US and a fun sci-fi game for Europe. But did you notice the G+ button hovering below the turkey? Google is now using its most visible, accessible, viral element to get people to sign up and share on Google+. If worked into future Doodles, this could be quite fruitful.

The Doodles have always been a way for the algorithm-centric giant to humanize itself. Tributes to dead rockstars, inventors, and world leaders show the company has a heart. They’re also obviously a marketing tool for Google’s search engine. By adding G+ sharing buttons, though, Google can convert Doodle visits into account registrations.

And Google needs them. Yes, the company is thinking long-term about identity, and it might not actually need people to engage on its social network. But it needs to get users registered for its social layer so it can start building profiles of their habits across its products to eventually target ads against. These registrations need to come eventually, and the fractured Google+ launch didn’t bring in enough.

Doodle G+ buttons could, because they leverage convenience. You could copy and paste the link wherever, but hit the G+ button and a pre-populated share prompt appears. Don’t have an account? Google tells why you want one: “Sign in to share your turkey doodle on Google+” Simple, direct, and effective. Unlike on most websites, here G+ buttons don’t have to compete with those from Facebook and Twitter. Before, Google+ was trying to sign people up without a clear value proposition for why they should.

As silly as it seems, adding cute matching G+ buttons to future Doodles could allow Google to slip its social layer under more casual web surfers.