Over the next few weeks, everyone that uses Google will begin to see its new "+1" feature showing up in search results and across the web. This new feature can be thought of as the Facebook "Like" button, as it is simply a recommendation for whatever type of content the +1 icon is attached to. Once activated, the button will change colors, letting you know that you have "+1'd" the article, ad, webpage, image, or video (and on and on). If one of your friends or contacts happens to come across that particular piece of content that you "+1'd", they will see your name as someone who recommends that information. Each time you "+1" something, you're basically leaving your mark to all that follow that you trust this piece of content, and that it is worth checking out. It's a much more passive way to recommend something to your network than sending an email, or a tweet, or posting on Facebook.
We've seen Google dip its toes into the "social pool" before, often times with failed results. Google Buzz, which was launched last year, didn't really ever gain traction compared to Facebook, Twitter, and 4Square - all of which it was trying to compete with or replace. Google Wave was another foray into the social collaboration world that crashed and burned. On the other hand, the new +1 feature might have some added benefit in the search engine optimization world, which would make it a very enticing new avenue to pursue. It is far too early to tell, however, how Google will utilize these "+1's" in its algorithm, but I would fully expect Google to factor the data in at some point. There is already plenty of speculation out there about what Google has up its sleeve, like in this article from CMS Wire, or this one from Search Engine Land.
With so much attention being given to social media these days, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the corporate marketing world. Will we soon see TV ads ending with "Like us on Facebook AND +1 us on Google?" Will the social media experts out there begin to measure how many "+1's" you have and try to assign a monetary value to it? Or, will this be another failed attempt at seamlessly bridging the gap between social media and search?