It’s been just over 3 months since Google announced Social Search as a new opt-in feature in Google Labs. As of yesterday, the feature is now live (beta status) to all signed in English Google searchers. The feature will be rolling out completely over the next few days. Keep checking if you cannot yet see the results as described in the video below.

Those interested and involved in social media…THIS IS BIG NEWS. I’m frankly a little stunned by the lack of buzz and discussion around this launch. Watch the video first, and then I want to bring up a few things that I think you’ll want to hear.

While the video does a great job in explaining the new feature, you may want to visit Google’s own help page on Social Search for more input. Pay close attention to the explanations about with whom and how you are connected with others. On the official Google blog, Google addresses the “beta” launch:

“We think there’s tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. We’re leaving a “beta” label on social results because we know there’s a lot more we can do. If you want to get the most out of Social Search right away, get started by creating a Google profile, where you can add links to your other public online social services”

Why I’m excited:

  • Anything that aggregates information that I deem useful is a good thing.
  • Giving my trusted friends and connections a voice with prominent placement just makes good sense. A search on Google now provides information that is personally more relevant to me.
  • The feature can be customized as I see fit.
  • Social Search results are personalized, so my search experience and results are uniquely my own. You don’t get my results, and vice versa.
  • Social Search also works in Google Images.
  • The two options included in the beta release that are to the right of Social Search results are very useful: My social circle – My social content. The first takes me to an alphabetical list of my connections as Google sees them. I can expand each name to “show paths” of that connection.  The second shows me my own content that Google shares with my contacts through Social Search. I can control what the world sees by adjusting the links in my Google profile.
  • This is an endorsement of social media that brands will have a hard time ignoring. It will encourage many brands to more seriously consider their level of engagement in this space.

This is another solid step from Google into social. It is a bit alarming to again come face-to-face with how much information Google collects about me, but as we progress into a more transparent, social, and connected online world, it is to be expected. In any event, just like real-time search, we can’t shove this genie back into the bottle either. What are your initial thoughts about Google’s new toy? 

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