Will '+1-ing' Become More Popular Than 'Like-ing'?
Google have clearly not given up the tussle for the 'social web', having hit back with the recent launch of the '+1' button.Although initially the button will only be seen by a small percentage of users on Google.com, soon we'll all be seeing '+1' buttons appearing next to Google search results and ads. If, as Google expresses it, we want to flag a search result as 'pretty cool', we can '+1' it. That means that when our friends see the site listed in search results, they'll also see the fact that we've '+1'ed it, making it more likely they'll click on the result.Even if a search doesn't yield a result that anyone we know has '+1'ed, we'll still see the aggregate of '+1's for all sites listed, which is likely to influence the site that we choose.The +1 will soon be available to website publishers to integrate into their sites, so no doubt it will soon be as ubiquitous as Facebook's 'Like' button. It will also eventually be rolled out across Google's portfolio of products, so +1's may become a feature of banner advertising as well as search.It's a smart move by Google which has many advantages over it's rival, Facbook's 'Like' button.For example, from a user perspective, a '+1' will be 'lighter' than a 'Like'. Many people may be put off 'Liking' by the fact it generates a post to their friends newsfeeds (the very reason that publishers and brands love the 'Like'). A' +1' recommendation will be less 'pushy' - something that's found only when your friend/contact is looking for something specific.It's also more targeted - appearing when your friend/contact is specifically looking for a product or piece of information on the web. And it makes sense for publishers to integrate '+1's into their sites, as even though Google aren't integrating '+1' clicks into their algorithm (at least, not until they've monitored its usage for a bit) a friend's recommendation will make a '+1'ed link more likely to be clicked.But Google's great disadvantage is that it's social 'reach' is not as extensive as that of its rival. Only signed in Google users will be able to '+1' links and sites, and Google will recognise their friends via their connections on Gmail, Buzz and Chat. Although Twitter connections may be integrated in the future, none of these channels has close to the enormous reach of Facebook. Thus, our friends '+1s' are likely to be less present in our web- browsing experience than they our friends' 'Like's.Clearly Google are hoping that the ability to leave helpful tips for our friends all over the internet will be enough to encourage more of us to create profiles and connect to our friends via their products, but it's by no means certain that this will be the case.Many are convinced this isn't the sum of Google's social strategy and that there are more announcements to come, so perhaps one of these will give people more compelling reasons to create a Google profile and connect to friends, making the '+1' button more effective.What is for sure is that Google sees the social web as somewhere worth fighting over, and that fight clearly has some way to run.