Why Google’s +1 Can’t Compete With Facebook’s Like

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Google just launched it’s +1 button this morning. This new feature allows Google’s users to like sites and ads right on the search results page and which will soon also come to a site near you in the form of a Facebook-like “-1″ button. Quite a few pundits are already proclaiming this as a Facebook competitor, but I have my doubts. For now, the benefits of clicking the +1 button simply aren’t there for users to bother clicking on them.

The +1 button will be a great new signal for Google to improve its search results and add information to its Social Search feature, but for it to really take off, Google will have to syndicate these results to places where people really want to send them. In its introductory video, Google says that it wants users to use this for sites they want to recommend, but don’t want to “want to send an email or post an update about.”

For Now, Your +1′s Disappear Into a Void – So Why Bother?

The real problem right now, tough, is that there are only so many buttons users can click on on any given site and unless they know where their recommendations go, chances are they won’t bother using this feature much.

With +1, your friends will see your “likes” on search results pages and on your Google Profile. I doubt that there is a lot of traffic to anybody’s Google Profile today, so why would I feel inclined to add more content to it? Instead, when I send a recommendation to Facebook or Twitter, I know exactly where it goes and who sees it.

Chances are, too, that my friends aren’t always looking for the same thing I do, so the chance of them actually seeing my +1 recommendations are pretty slim – making me even less inclined to use the button.

Until Google actually allows users to syndicate these +1′s to other sites and services like Facebook and Twitter, I doubt that this will take off in a major way.

That said, though, chances are that this is only a small step in Google’s overall social strategy. Maybe +1 could become part of a larger Facebook competitor in the long run, but given Google’s general failure to make any dent in this market, I doubt it (Buzz, Google’s last major foray into competing with Facebook doesn’t even get the courtesy of being allowed to aggregate +1′s, which is quite telling, I think).

Frederic Lardinois founded SiliconFilter in 2011. Before starting this site, he wrote about 1,500 articles for ReadWriteWeb. His areas of interest are consumer web and mobile apps, as well as Internet-connected devices like cars, smart sensors and toasters. You can reach him at [email protected]

7 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting article. I agree this seems different then Facebook’s like, although there are similarities.

    I was going to wait on enabling +1, but this article tipped my curiosity. The +1s going into the void made me wonder why Google would publicly release a new product that did nothing. It looks like they do indeed go into a void by default, but you can open up your profile and make your +1s public on the profile. This is a nice change compared to how they rolled out buzz.

    I look forward to seeing if/how they roll this feature into their APIs, such as OpenSocial and Social Graph.

  2. I don’t think they need to be syndicated anywhere. Maybe I understand it incorrectly so correct me if I’m wrong: When I’m logged in to google and do a search, all the results will show up the same way they do pre +1, except they will now have the +1 box next to them for results my social circle (gmail/buzz/reader contacts).

    I believe this will significantly affect the links a user clicks on, as now my social circle has started to endorse my google search results, allowing me to find useful information easier.

    I think it is a brilliant idea and I cannot wait to start seeing +1′s next to my results (already enabled it, but everyone else will have to for it to be worth anything).

  3. The comments do not disappear into a void and they are syndicated somewhere. The search result pages of your friends and others to whom you have a connection.

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