When Facebook first launched the ability to “Like” a status update back in 2009, it was a fun way to share your appreciation and communicate with your mates – more relevant than the redundant “poke” but just as easy.
Fast forward a year later at the Facebook developers F8 event, Mark Zuckerberg announced their open graph, which offered (amongst other things) the ability to take the “Like” button and embed it on external websites.
Take another jump forward to a few days ago and we saw Google launch a rival to Facebook’s like feature called the +1 (thats “plus one”).
The +1 may appear to be a simple competitor to Facebook, but the concept and design is similar to the glory days of Digg. Google, using their position as the gateway to the internet, has done something smart here. +1 is essentially making the web more personal for all of us.
+1 is still in the experimenting stages, you can go to Google experiments and take the feature for a spin but for those of you who are not so inclined, here’s a brief run-down. The product is basically a recommendation engine that give websites a seal of approval from their users.
It looks like the engine recognizes your current Google contacts – friends on Gmail, Orkut and Buzz, so when you’re searching for a site on Google, the sites that your contacts have “+1″‘d will be ranked higher in your search. They’ll also have a friendly little button next to the search listing saying “Paul recommends this”. Making this feature a great way to let your mates tell you which site has the most relevant information for whatever topic you are searching.
Google, to their credit, have created something that’s simple, truly valuable and powerful enough to give the almighty Zuk and his Facebook minions a run for their money.
For marketers using Adwords, this is an amazing tool. The +1 feature is available on Adwords in the same way as searches. This means your ads are more relevant to your viewers, are potentially arriving in front of your consumer’s eyes complete with an endorsement from someone they trust, and have an added layer of measurability based on numbers of “+1” ratings they receive.
Another positive for business owners is the ability to +1 a business right on google searches, that is, if a business has already created a Google places profile. This may be beneficial as it could feedback recommendations to Google Hotpot.
The growth potential for Google +1 is vast. The projected future includes the ability to see who has +1 a site from non-Google properties like Twitter, Flickr and Quora. Making the recommendation engine even more personalised for you while surfing the web.
The announcement of this feature hasn’t exactly come as a surprise. Further personalisation of the web is a recurring theme amongst all developments these days, and Google has been talking about getting their social presence right for almost a year now. Over the past year and then just recently again at SXSW, we’ve heard rumors of Google secretly building a(nother) social networking platform. Is +1 it? or could this be just one of many social-savvy product Google will launch in the months to come ?[Hat tip: Search Engine Land, SEOMOZ]