First there was Google Wave. Then there was Google Buzz. Now we have Google +1. Google’s attempts to break into the social space have been less than extraordinary. But, out of the 3 I believe this one has the best chance to make it.
Many people are comparing Google’s +1 to the Facebook Like Button. This is probably a valid comparison, but +1 still needs some work to challenge the Like Button.
One of the biggest advantages the Like Button has is quite simply the Facebook network. When you “like” something, it posts it to your profile. That way all your friends know that you “like” it, which gives them a chance to click-through to the page and maybe “like” it as well. Google’s +1 is more of a passive solution. You only see that people +1’ed something for a site/page when you use search.
Part of the reason that both Wave and Buzz failed was because you had to create a new profile on a new network to be able to use them. Currently it’s planned that you can only use +1 if you are logged into your Google account. This may prove again to be a barrier for people to start using it. Coming late to the party and trying to be a closed system is a recipe for disaster.
Social search already incorporates some of the social graph when you use Google search. For example when you do a search and one of the results was shared by a Twitter connection, you will see this under the result. But, again it is relying on another network.
So, how can Google make +1 socially proactive?
- Promote Google profiles More:Currently the only way to use +1 is to be logged into your Google account, but only a small percentage of people that have Google profiles really maintain them.
One way to lower the pain of switching to a new platform would be to allow people to login with credentials from other platforms. Although, I know this can be slippery slope.
- Get a +1 button on websites:The only way people will really use it, is if they have it right in front of them when they decide they want to share something. Clicking back to the search results to +1 a result just isn’t going to happen. Create an easy way for webmasters to add the tool to their sites. Offer an API for third party plugins like SexyBookmarks for WordPress.
- Find a way for people share their +1 with connections:This sort of goes back to the first point. Let’s face it, unless more people start using Google Profiles the effect will be similar to Buzz: Sharing in a vacuum. So, allow people to Tweet, post to Facebook, Stumble, or post to any other network, that they just Google +1′ed a page. Then figure out a way to drive people back to Google Profiles. Maybe with more functionality for +1 if they are logged in, but only allowing people to use/see it when they are logged in is dangerous.
Google’s strength is search, so they need to leverage that to drive their platform to be more social. +1 is a step in the right direction.