Anyone who spends time on the Internet has noticed the Google +1 buttons turning up all over the Web for the past year or two. Users of Google+ find them to be a standard part of their day-to-day usage of the platform. Now the +1 button has gotten a change, and whether it is a good one is a matter of opinion.
Cris Crumb of WebProNews weighs in:
This is pretty good news for bloggers and publishers because it gives content a greater chance of reaching more eyeballs. You can always see how many +1’s you get on an article or blog post, but you never know how many of those are actually being shared to people. You probably still won’t know, but at least you’ll know that Google might put the post in more people’s streams.
Among the end users, the most common reaction I am seeing is negative. “Shut down your +1’s or get uncircled,” is one of the more common statements I see in my stream. “If I wanted Facebook crap I’d be on Facebook,” is another.
The extended reach that has marketers gleefully rubbing their hands together is exactly what many G+ users fear. Hardly surprising, since the overall demographics of Facebook seem to include more technical and open-source-oriented people. This is a digitally literate crowd with frequent aversion to advertising.
If you are worried about whether you are spamming your friends, Android Authority has a lengthy examination of how to batten down the hatches, but here is the short-form version:
What you have to do to disable the +1 activity updates is to go to Google+ settings (quick link here: https://plus.google.com/apps/google) and choose from the drop down either ‘only you’ or set it to custom if you want certain people to have access to your ‘’+1’s on posts’ activity’…
While everything has a negative side, there are aspects of the new +1 that aren’t as alarming as many would have you believe. For one thing, when +1’s from people you have circled show up, it will only be in your home stream. Another thing that differentiates it from Facebook “likes” it that (at least at present) the content is coming from humans. Not apps, not advertisements, but actual users. I’m sure that will change as time goes on, but it is a difference worth noting.
In the meantime, the potential for exposure has increased greatly. All you need is one influencer to +1 your content in order to expose you to a huge potential new audience.
George “Loki” Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.