I’ve been keeping an eye out for patents from Google that look like they describe how they are trying to improve visitor’s experiences on Google+. I came across one of those this morning on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website, under the name:
System and method for providing information regarding posts on social networking sites
Inventors: Alexander Collins, Jeffrey L. Korn
A system and method are disclosed for providing information regarding posts on social networking sites. The system receives, using one or more computing devices, an identifier for a content item to post in a message of a user on a social networking site, where the identifier is received before a request to post the message. The system also identifies, using the one or more computing devices and based on the received identifier, one or more messages including the content item previously posted on the social networking site. The system also provides for a display to the user, using the one or more computing devices, information about the one or more messages including the content item previously posted on the social networking site to the user, where the information is provided for display before the request to post the message is received.
The purpose behind the process in this patent is to encourage people to post new things to their social activities page. As the patent tells us:
Social network users often post content items (e.g., links to interesting sites/articles, images, videos, etc.) that they think their friends would like on their social networking accounts. However, many users are intimidated about posting these links because they feel they may be spamming their friends if they have already seen the link. This may discourage a user from posting a link that they feel others may have already posted or seen.
Messages that might be shown to someone could include statements like the following:
- you are the first of your friend’s circle to post this content item
- the content item has not been posted into the activity stream of anyone in your friend’s circle
- you are the first of your extended network to post this content item
- 10 other people in your circles/extended network have posted this content item
- the content item was previously posted into activity streams of 10 other people in your circles/extended network
I wouldn’t call this a highly innovative addition to Google+, but I think it would be effective in terms of encouraging people to post new things to the social network. That’s likely worth trying with people who are possibly concerned about posting something that a lot of people may have already seen.
You don’t see a warning like this if you are sharing a link to a page on Twitter or Facebook. I think some people will share links to pages that others have shared too, and warnings like the ones listed above won’t stop people from sharing.
I do find it encouraging that Google is working on ways to improve users’ experiences on Google+.
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