Google has added a people widget to Gmail that may add valuable social context to content for email marketers.

As part of its continuous effort to move into the social space, Google announced a new people widget for Gmail. This feature allows users to easily access content shared by friends directly in their inboxes, and it may help boost brand advocacy surrounding email marketing messages.

Google explains that the people widget serves to make friend-advocated content available. Message recipients can see the people mentioned in a given conversation on a side toolbar, as well as the content they've recently shared.

“We think it can be helpful to view relevant information in context, which is why over the next two weeks we’re rolling out a new people widget located on the right hand side of your messages,” Google says.

As this feature develops, marketers may find that their messages can be compared to online brand mentions from recipients' connections.

The Gmail people widget is similar to an update from Yahoo that Brafton covered earlier this week. Yahoo Mail (which currently has more users than Gmail) now boasts Facebook and Twitter integration, enabling users to keep up with real-time sharing from their friends without navigating away from their inboxes.

These developments signify that as the line between search and social marketing blurs, so to does the line between social and email marketing. Marketers will want to remember to prepare social content that catches Likes and shares to boost advocacy and maybe (among other things) open rates.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.