Last week saw the full UK release of Google +1. This is a button that will appear at the side of all search results in Google, giving you the option to essentially ‘like’ a site or article, much the same as in Facebook.
This function is only available if you have a Google account, Gmail, and a Google profile. You must select the +1 experiment from Google Labs before using, and it will only work through Google.com (not .co.uk).
The contact list from your Gmail account is used to share your +1’s with friends and colleagues, giving a personal recommendation on sites across the Google search network. Your contacts will then see a picture of you underneath listings for any sites you have given a +1, stating that you have performed the action. Companies can also use the +1 button on their website pages, giving customers an opportunity to share their positive feedback to even more potential customers.
There is no way to pull +1 reporting data at the moment, but this is in the pipeline. However, you can view all the sites that you have recommended to others from within your Google profile page.
Many feel that the +1 button is Google’s attempt to re-invent the Facebook ‘like’ button. However, Facebook do not have the rights or capability to use the ‘like’ button on search engines, which is the only significant difference currently. Also, many feel that Gmail is a dying form of communication ever since the introduction of Facebook mail. Is this a sneaky way of Google trying to force an ancient email platform onto the modern world? This would make sense, as Google have failed to develop any new innovative technology in some time. However, the most likely explanation is that Google feel threatened by Facebook and would like to go toe-to-toe with them in every area.
The big question on everybody’s mind is ‘how will the new +1 button fair in the present market?’ Is the web too large for this to be affective? What are the chances that you and your friends will be searching for the same thing on Google? How are Google going to attract customers back to Gmail, purely for the sake of using +1?
My personal thoughts are that this is likely not to work unless Google are willing to develop a new social networking platform; something unique and cutting edge that uses historical data from both search engines and social networks to give the user a much more personalised experience. However, there is much debate within Brass, with many hailing Google +1 as a fantastic idea.
This new button may attract businesses more than users, giving site owners one more way to get honest feedback from customers in an easy and simple fashion as well as offering the opportunity to advertise their business for free to friends and family through recommendations.
What’s your standpoint?
I will eagerly await any user feedback on this new tool, and am excited to see how Facebook will react to Google’s tenacious attitude. Let the battle continue…