Whitey - 2:49 am on Feb 14, 2012 (gmt 0)
Google will look at this from a business viewpoint - search versus social. It simply wants to encourage folks to use more of Google and competing for advertising dollars with Facebook may become a challenge.
So IMO the jury's out on how and when Google will promote/demote/neutralise sites that engage social, because i don't think they've worked out how to deal with it commercially. Google + is in it's infancy and doesn't have first user advantage - but let's see what the gurus at Google have cooked up in their strategy. They are at a very strategic strong point to play their tricks of engagement. Webmasters and site owners could be prone to some tactical manipulation eventually forcing them to be more involved with website engagement, compared to FB etc.
Is social good for sites ? Absolutely. Repeat and referral traffic is gold for brand. Search is not really brand centric. So depending on what one does and how one does it, social enagagement is the next big thing IMO
So i think everyone should consider getting involved, learn from the experience and be prepared for any eventuality. Not being part of the overall learning curve and break with a strengthening trend is a reason to worry.