Google continues to add functionality and features to its uber-popular Reader tool. You can now “Like” an item, a feature that many are comparing to a similar action you can take on FriendFeed.
As you’re scrolling through your new RSS items in Reader you’ll be able to see how many people have marked a particular item as something they “Like” and then click through to see who that person is and then decide whether or not you’d like to follow the rest of their Shared Items.
The primary result of this being added that I can see is in that latter point, that of finding people to connect with through Google Reader Shared Items. That’s very much part of the backwards way Google is building their own social network (they started out with the functionality and then added networking, the very opposite of how most networks have begun). I say it’s the primary advantage because “Liked” items don’t seem to be viewable on their own and aren’t added to your Shared Items. Likewise, Liking an item is not an action that’s exported to FriendFeed or a similar aggregation site.
It’s interesting that, for any particular item, you can see how many people have Liked an item but not how many people have Shared an item. That’s every bit as interesting a metric but not one that’s measurable as of yet.
This is yet another active action that can be taken with a blog post and so it’s something publishers – and any other stakeholder – needs to be aware of. It’s another case where anyone with a vested interest in a blog (publisher, marketing team, PR/mktg agency, etc) needs to be subscribing to that feed if for no other reason than to grab this metric.