With its new "+1" button, Google is taking on Facebook's popular "like" button and creating a new currency for the measurement of social media influence.
The company introduced +1 i n a blog post Wednesday. To recommend something - a newspaper article, a blog post, an ad - just click the +1 icon. The +1s people click will then start appearing in Google's search results. So if you're searching for a particular band or a specific concert, Google's search results will include the +1s of people you know. The search results will also include the total number of +1s for that item. By including those anonymous +1s, Google gives you a sense of the overall popularity of the item.
"The beauty of +1's is their relevance-you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results)," wrote product manager Rob Spiro.
At first, +1s will be linked to a people connected on Google (chat buddies or contacts). But Google says that other connections, such as Twitter, could be implemented in the future.
And for now, +1s will only appear next to Google search results - including AdWords ads. But in the near future, developers will be able to add a +1 icon to web pages so people can share recommendations with their friends.
So what does this mean for artists, record labels, promoters and ticketing companies? First of all, Google's +1 gives artists and music companies added incentive to integrate social media into their online projects and properties. Think about it: If your competitor has added +1s and has facilitated the discovery of their artists amongst fans' social networks, you would be giving up an advantage if you ignored these social features. Think of music as a zero-sum game. Awareness and sales for one artist takes away from another artist's potential. And by allowing people to +1 an item, you're creating a popularity measure that can be seen by all viewers of Google search results.
It also means the inclusion of Google +1 could become as standard as the inclusion of a Facebook like icon or Twitter icon on artist web pages and concert listings. If this was just another social media startup you might have the option of not adding another icon to your page. But this is Google. However, you may want to wait until +1 integrates other services like Facebook or Twitter. As Wave and Buzz have showed us, not every Google product gains traction.
For a thorough overview on +1, read this post at Search Engine Land.