Six months after the Google+ debut, Google's trying to lure users into engaging it by playing to our egos with its new social search features. Now that the social network is all integrated with search, Google's targeting self-googlers, discovered The Next Web's Drew Olanoff. When Googling one's own name -- something we've all done, right? -- Google now prompts users to finish filling out their profiles before it reveals the rest of the search results, as you can see below. As social networking and Internet personae are all about appearances, the move, along with social search in general, plays to our insecurities, luring us onto its nascent network by asking us to improve our public images, which is more visible now thanks to... social search.
This prompt, for example, targets the type of person who cares what they look like on the Internet and might not want a slim Google+ profile to give the wrong impression. Self-Googlers use Google as a mirror. (Come on, we're not alone here!) What shows up on those Google pages represents one's (digital) being. Not everything on there is in our control, but Google+ is. There we get to decide what kind of images we promote, making our Internet selves look as sexy or as interesting as we'd like our real selves to be. Google gets that, which is why the message below this prompt reads: "Stand out from other people named Rebecca Greenfield." With a fuller profile, we not only get to be ourselves, we get to be better versions of ourselves, making it even more important than ever to have a perfect G+ profile, since it will show up alongside regular results.
These newer methods have more to do with engagement -- a problem for Google as it struggles to prove its relevance -- than getting users to sign up. Making social search relevant and useful means using and connecting with people on Google+, as we noted when it came out last week. Getting that profile to 100 percent complete also involves a lot of G+ navigation, as Gizmodo's Mat Honan discovered. After filling out everything possible, he can't seem to get that profile 100% complete.
"I'm still only at 95 percent. I have no idea what I need to do to get to 100," he laments. Tough luck for him, but bully for Google: How many hours do you think Honan spent poking around the site to get a nearly-perfect score? And how many millions of others do you think are just like him?