It seems as if the good fight between Google and Facebook, the top two companies on the web, is one that’s not ending anytime soon. This time it comes in the form of Google’s “+1 Button,” which is comparable to that of Facebook’s “Like” function.
In an era where social networking is king, where more and more people are letting their voices be heard on the net, and where a diverse array of populations convene for their news and story sharing, Facebook’s ‘Like’ button has become part of our everyday culture in our age of the Internet. T-shirts have been made, jokes in offices are told and data has been gathered based on clicking the infamous Like.
Google has had some great success breaking into other avenues besides search. Google Maps took away the spotlight from MapQuest, Google Places, with their comprehensive local business listings, has darn near wiped out the Yellow Pages, and their video search is no YouTube, but holds up great amongst its challengers.
However, Google’s foray into the social networking world have yet to remain sticky to the public. Remember the ill-fated Google Buzz? (Know anyone who got too deep into it? We sure don’t.) Google Latitude carried a little bit of weight, but then got the stakes raised high on them when location check-in favorite FourSquare hit their tipping point. Google Wave took the plunge. Yet Google still seems to be trying to crack into the social sphere with areas like their Google Profiles, the new +1 button, Buzz and the rumored Google Me.
The benefit of Google’s implementation of their +1 button is that its going to be integrated into the biggest search engine in the world. The flipside to that is that the masses don’t flock to Google (yet?) to socially network or let their social group know their tastes or ‘likes.’ Facebook has had many moons to keep their user base captivated and they’re constantly finding ways to keep users immersed on their site for hours at a time. My belief is that Google is going to have a tough time getting the masses to switch platforms for such things as public preference sharing, or liking.
This isn’t to say the +1 button won’t serve a purpose while its out there. Undoubtedly batches of users out there will utilize it to bookmark things they like or share those things with their peers. Ultimately, I think it will benefit Google the most, using data from their users “+1’s” to hone in on personalized and customized ads towards those who use it, thus keeping their revenue rolling right through the door.
Another limiting factor is that in order to utilize the +1 feature, users need a Google account first. Not everyone out there has a Google account. As of right now it seems to me that those who’d gravitate towards this are those who are immersed in the Google culture or those who are more in tune with their online organization skills (del.icio.us people, stand up!). But I’m thinking that on its own its going to be a hard conversion to woo the critical mass over from the all-inclusive Facebook resort.
There might be a lot of trash to talk about Google dipping their toes into the social game, but time will tell. Facebook might have its biggest competitor after all when the elusive Google Me is unveiled onto the world. Keep your eyes peeled.