Google just gave us an insight into some of their next social steps. As said earlier this week, Google is far from done when it comes to social or Google Plus. The ‘project’ goes on and on.
Even though at first sight it might not seem related, the just released Google News badges is a social feature which again has all the signals in it: data and the social connections within content.
What is the new feature?
First of all, what did they just launch? Feature wise that is. Google announced that when you are in the US you can now start earning badges by reading articles. Google has more than 500 badges available which you can earn. The more you read about a topic, the higher level badge you’ll receive. Check out Google’s video on this:
The social thought behind it
Google has several reasons for rolling this out.
The social reason
One of the reasons is social. The fact that you can ‘earn’ something, namely badges, triggers people to use it. It triggers even more when your friends are using it too. Now the default settings for this is private (Google is very careful with their privacy stuff ever since Google+ launched). Your badges however can be easily shared with your friends. This will trigger your friends to use it too, but will also give your friends some insight in what you like and what you read.
The data reason
The second, and probably most important reason however is data. To figure out their new way of ‘social ranking’ in the future Google needs data. The badges are a perfect tool to get that data. You are telling Google what kind of stuff you like, what you are reading. And how that content connect to your friends. So they will know what kind of content to show you and which friends should be the ones to ‘promote’ that to you.
Is this connected to Google+? No, it isn’t. Yet. It will be in the future without a doubt. Sparks seems to be the least successful parts of Plus now. This might very well add to that, so the connection will be made pretty soon I think. And then the data will be rolling in.
And remember, Google now thinks those people you follow who follow you back on Google+ are your friends…