Google has a history of social tools that were tried and failed, like Wave and Buzz. People just haven’t connected with these tools the way they do other social media and sharing tools. So now, it’s a bit of a surprise that Google’s trying again with its +1 tool. Essentially, when you search a term, you have the option (once you set it up) to click the “+1″ button next to a URL, indicating you like the site.
It’s similar to “Like” on Facebook, Digging or Stumbling a site, or retweeting on Twitter. Given these similarities, the question is: What benefit does it provide?
I get that the idea is to let your network see the sites that you think are valuable, and yes, if I saw a friend had +1’d something I was looking for, I’d probably click on it. But what does it mean for black hat techniques for business? Don’t you think people will start businesses based on guaranteeing to get a company thousands of +1s for a small fee (if they haven’t started this already)? How will this affect search engine rankings?
And it will take years before my friends and I are searching for the same things and finding one another’s recommendations. I search for vastly different items than they do. I spent a few minutes testing the tool and the only +1 I came across was from Robert Scoble. And I’ve never even met the guy!
I also find a flaw in the fact that once I click on a site and browse around, then determine it’s click-worthy, I have to go back to the search results to click the button. Sure, Google wants websites to add a +1 on their sites, but I think this is just one more thing for a company to manage. They already have to encourage visitors and customers to Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, review them on Yelp, give them their email for coupons … how much more can a company possibly ask a customer to do?
Another features that chaps my hide is that Google can and will use your +1 click on ads. So if I click that I like the People Puppy Chow Dog Food link, when this dog food company places a Google Ad, it can use my +1 to endorse its products. I may have never tried the products. Maybe I just like cute puppies. I know Facebook does this too, and I’m not a fan. Where’s our percent of ad sales?
I may be wrong, and feel free to argue with me (I’m counting on you to), but I suspect a few people will use the +1 for a while until they grow tired of it, then it’ll get tossed in Google’s Fail pile. Google’s got such innovative products, it’s a shame that they do so poorly in the social division. WordStream agrees, as I’m sure do many others.
What do you think? Are you using Google’s +1 button? What benefit do you get from it? Will it survive?