Posted March 30, 2011 3:12 pm by with 11 comments

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Google is beginning to roll out another social offering that is tied to the search mothership (and the ads displayed on it as well 🙂 ). But I will be honest. After doing some research as to what others were saying about +1 in addition to what Google says about it, I am at the point where my hair hurts. Let’s start with the obligatory Google nod at marketing called the cute video intro on the Google blog of (insert service name here).

The blog post goes into tremendous detail of what +1 will do and it should rank number one for the term “+1” because it’s mentioned 15 times in the post (my count at least).

Here’s my question to our readers though. How many of you have the same group of friends or social connections in your Google profile as you do in Facebook Twitter or anywhere else? I ask because the key to this becoming truly social is how many people will see your +1’s (which is now Google’s Like or retweet equivalent). Those would be the people in your Google social network which, until today at least, has been an oxymoron.

According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land

Let’s talk about your +1 social network now. When you enable +1, it will be made up of:

People in your Gmail & Google Talk chat list
People in your “My Contacts” group in Google Contacts
People you follow in Google Reader or Google Buzz

What’s missing are people you are connected to via non-Google services, such as Twitter, Flickr or Quora. That’s something that will come in the future, Google says.

Indeed, we know that there are some “hidden” options that were added to Google Profiles recently, allowing you to connect those profiles to other social networking accounts. It could be that these will be enabled soon, as part of the +1 rollout.

Sullivan then goes on to explain how you have another social network from Google’s Social Search which is still separate from the +1 group. Honestly, it’s like a social clusterplusone. Then Danny, bless his heart, gives the whole Google social picture in painstaking detail which only served to confuse me more even though I know that what he wrote is spot on (it almost always is). I just don’t see how these can all run concurrently (+1, Social Search, Buzz) and the average person can make any sense of it. Is it so much to ask for Google to produce something that could be understood easily by the vast majority of people who use search engines which are just regular folks looking for some information rather than a spider web of social starts and stops?

In the end, I am going to wait to see exactly what +1 does and who it does it to before I say anything else. If you would like to join the experiment you can do so here.

Can you explain +1 in a succinct sentence? Let’s see your attempts in the comments. I sure could use them.

  • Any moment now, bing will launch +2

  • OK – Im not going to even try that 1 sentence challenge! whilst I’m also going to wait and see how ggl social starts taking shape rather than trying to make any great forecasts, a few things occurred to me at this stage that I felt like sharing:

    1) Perhaps if it takes off it can be used to help improve their algorithm. Harder to ‘create’ real ppl with real ggl accounts than to do other black-hat SEO tactics.

    2) I actually have more contacts in my gmail contacts than in any of my friend lists. this would be different for people who are followed by masses, but perhaps there are other mere mortals who use gmail actively like me for whom this is true

    3) I’ve no idea what shape or form their social network style product will end up taking but this will surely help them gather more social style data than their other products to date because a) its v easy to use b) its the only one to date integrated so purely into actual search results

    • @david – It’s probably smart to pass on that challenge. I do see what +1 can do but it’s the rest of the social mess that Google has created that will make this offering less clear than it should be. And once again, I will go back to this like a broken record but most of these kind of plays by Google are catering to the techno elite and the masses will not be the least bit concerned. As a result, social information will be influenced by a relatively small sample of the world at large and it will be skewed. At least that’s what I see. Maybe I’m just being a curmudgeon on this ( I have been called that before so I am not breaking new ground here:-) ) but I would like to see something come from Silicon Valley that doesn’t play to just Silicon Valley.

  • if you +1 an ad, will that correspond to a sites organic listing as well? or are the two systems completely separate?

    • Ahhhh, and the questions start to roll in. I honestly don’t know.

    • I wonder if votes on ads will have any effect on placement as well.

  • The left hand never talks to the right hand – they live in silos. They’ve never successfully reached critical mass with ANY social initiative they’ve ever tried. Yet they’re determined to plow ahead, regardless of the fact they can’t see what’s in front of the plow, or the fact that loud crashing and metal-tearing screeches emanate from the front of the plow.

    It’s not just social though – when Yelp turned them down, they rolled out hotpot & started pushing Google reviews to try and own the data. That’s what it boils down to. They just want to own all the data. How they make use of it comes down to the hands not talking to each other of course, but they don’t care.

  • amanda

    is this the same with adding a social toolbar?

  • So what? They continue copying Facebook and that’s a battle they won’t win… I can already see service providers giving you the chance to get 3K +1’s for a few hundred dollars, hoping to increase rankings by doing so.