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-1 for Google +1

While I was browsing through news stories at MSNBC.com, I could not help but notice the vast difference between the number of people recommended a story on Facebook and +1’ed it on Google. Here are some examples:

Perry to announce campaign for president: Facebook: 997 clicks Google +1: 6 clicks

Warrant singer Jani Lane found dead: Facebook: 330 clicks Google +1: 1 click

Chimp attack victim reveals her new face: Facebook: 7.000 clicks Google +1: 63 clicks

The numbers don’t look very encouraging for +1 to say the least. Oh heck, let’s be honest. +1 is failing.

Why is +1 failing?

+1 is failing because there is no value a user gets from +1’ing anything. If a user clicks the Facebook recommend button, he shares the story with his friends and hopefully exchanges some semi intelligent comments with them. If he tweets and adds his own spin in the remaining 120 characters, maybe he gets retweeted, receives a reply or a new follower, and gets the very much needed boost to his self esteem along with additional klout points.

What if he +1’s something? Does it get shared with his Circles on Google+? Nope. I am betting 99.99% of users would expect that to happen. It is such an obvious use case but it is not happening. Despite the resemblance in the name, +1 and Google+ seem to be entirely disconnected efforts. Does it effect Buzz, Reader or Gmail? No, no, and no. The +1 goes to his Google public profile under the list of links he +1’ed. I bet the person who +1’ed Jani Lane’s death doesn’t even know that.

There is no value for a user to +1 anything. Hence no one does.

Yalım K. Gerger (@yalimgerger)

Update 1: I wrote a follow up post about the points raised in the comments below. You can read it here.

Update 2: As of August 24, 2011, after 12 days publishing this post, Google tied +1 to Google+. It is noteworthy that in the blog post announcing the featue, they talk about how many daily views the +1 button has had so far but not how many times it was actually clicked.

The effects of linking +1 to Google+ remains to be seen. I will be watching closely and blog about it if necessary.

  • Alfie

    This. I saw a site I thought was cool and wanted to +1 it… then thought to myself “what is the point?” Nobody gets to see it and it’s only helping out Google. What should happen when you +1 is that a popup happens and you can click on the circles you want to share.

  • http://instantcarinsuranceonline.com Ian

    While I agree that +1ing things seems to be rather pointless, I have seen certain niche topics get more +1s than facebook shares or even tweets. Things like technology and IM type articles seem to attract the most +1s. Still for the time being I can’t really understand why.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Yes, your are right. That would actually make some sense.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Can it be that Google has close to 30.000 employees that probably hang around tech sites a lot. :-)

  • http://www.jasonpant.com Jason Pant

    It would be nice to see the +1 button at least do something. I agree, Alfie.

  • http://www.mrspeaker.net/ Mr Speaker

    Man… the lead singer of Warrant dies, and THIS is how I found out.

  • http://twitter.com/curiousmitch Mitch Cohen

    You are correct, and add to that the inconsistent behavior of the +1 button with in Google Plus and when using it on a site. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago http://www.curiousmitch.com/2011/07/the-google-1-button-anyone-else-confused/

  • Guest

    The +1 button does the same as Facebook like – it shows up in Google+ as a page, that you like.

  • John Nevill

    I have the same issue with google reader. I “Share” stories when reading them, but they don’t go to google+ and they don’t go to my profile. They sit in my Buzz feed, which noone uses. +1, Buzz (what’s left of it), and Google Reader integration into Google+ would be awesome. Furthermore, better integration with Picasa (share an album to my feed, for instance) and any integration with Google music would be another great add. They’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle, they just need to assemble it.

  • http://twitter.com/timeblind timeblind

    true, its not in the stream. you do see it in search results, and you can go to a person’s profile page to see them.

    but I think its still officially in field testing. you would have to scale the numbers by number registered. so 27mill vs 750mill. and until google can open it up for everyone to sign up then it would be a bad idea to push things like reader/buzz integration that just frustrate people that can’t sign up yet.

    also a lot of people are signed up to google+ but the conversation traffic level is still low. its waiting to hit a threshold point where people have enough friends to make it worthwhile. then maybe people will see the point in hitting the +

  • http://twitter.com/timeblind timeblind

    I think they can’t integrate until they open up registrations for everybody. otherwise it would be very annoying to be offered a control that you can’t use

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Ohhh…don’t event get me started with Reader. Sharing articles in Reader deserves its own blog post. It looks like the entire UX for sharing is designed to make the user helpless. I cannot imagine a non techie user being able to share anything with anyone in that UI. We literally had to involve several software engineers the first time we tried to set the sharing settings among each other.

  • Anonymous

    Great article. I was wondering the same.
    It’s interesting that Facebook never implemented the feature to list your previous likes.
    Google does it for you but fails on the other end to share it with your friends.
    I think the optimal solution would be somewhere in the middle.

  • http://jp.rumbrook.net/ Jon-Paul Lussier Jr

    So, you took a single, edge case example — on a site where tech involved people (probably) aren’t the heavy majority of visitors; and disseminated a structured argument as to why the service is failing, based on that edge case.

    -1 for fail post with data based on a visit to MSNBC.com today. (With three sources)
    -1 for getting it on HN with a sensationalist bullshit title.

  • http://jp.rumbrook.net/ Jon-Paul Lussier Jr

    So, you took a single, edge case example — on a site where tech involved people (probably) aren’t the heavy majority of visitors; and disseminated a structured argument as to why the service is failing, based on that edge case.

    -1 for fail post with data based on a visit to MSNBC.com today. (With three sources)
    -1 for getting it on HN with a sensationalist bullshit title.

  • Lee

    It’s funny, but I actually see this as a success. Google+ has been live for only 6 weeks, through invitation only, and they are already generating these numbers? Wow!

  • Lee

    It’s funny, but I actually see this as a success. Google+ has been live for only 6 weeks, through invitation only, and they are already generating these numbers? Wow!

  • Chris Miller

    IIRC, the +1 buttons (and Google Profiles) came out before Google+. I’m sure these and other products will be integrated eventually.

  • Chris Miller

    IIRC, the +1 buttons (and Google Profiles) came out before Google+. I’m sure these and other products will be integrated eventually.

  • http://kwpolska.co.cc/ Kwpolska

    One problem: +1 exists since a few months. Facebook widgets are everywhere much longer. Additionally, MSNBC isn’t the right place to check for this. You’ll see more +1′s on sites for tech people.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Ah come on. Give me the benefit of the doubt. Cut me some slack here. :-)

    I chose MSNBC.com precisely because its user base is not technical.

    Adding more than three examples to the article would not add any value to the article. I am just leading to my point with that. This is not a scientific journal. :-)

    A title is meant to be interesting and catchy.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Actually +1 has nothing to do with Google+. However, as I suspected most people don’t realize this.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Yes but +1 and Google+ came out very close to each other with very close names. One would think that they would be associated by default.

  • Eavdfiuygheqwrv

    I find that fact that you completely ignored how Facebook has hundreds of times more users, disingenuous. That is *the* reason for those figures.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AN5G5SBLVLYHGGMF56N7LPUUFE Aaron

    Isn’t it still in a field test?

  • Anonymous

    Your argument is invalid – the +1 will be used for page ranking! That is > a bazillion facebook shares!

    “This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.”

    Source http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/

  • David

    Where’s the link to +1 this?

  • Anonymous

    > Actually +1 has nothing to do with Google+

    then

    > One would think that they would be associated by default.

    Seems like you’re still on the fence about it.

  • Lol

    You sir, need to take your head out of the ass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Mo/11014100 Jeff Mo

    Well… one good place for people who want to get more +1′s for their site is:

    PlusOneSwap.Com.

    It can definitely help out with SEO and other functions.

  • Michael Beacom

    I +1′d this page

  • Michael Beacom
  • Truga

    I don’t want to be rude but this is completely out of scope

  • http://jeffcouturier.com Jeff Couturier

    It’s WAY too early to tell. Revisit this after G+ has been up and running for a year or two, and then we can have a realistic discussion about wether G+ is actually failing or not. For a service that has only been open for a few weeks and is still in limited beta, G+ is most certainly not failing.

  • Trufa

    Sorry that was posted by accident. What I wanted to say is that google+ is less that 2 months old on beta phase, FB is already 6 years old! What did you expect?? Let’s just see how this turns out. Google + has a big window for improvement still.

  • http://twitter.com/orlanka orlanka

    You can add your + 1′s to your stream in Google +.

    This is also an unfair comparison as a + 1 is more in line with the ‘like’ button on FB.

  • http://www.hypedsound.com jonathanjaeger

    I was thinking the same thing.

  • TheShadow

    Seriously…this is a Troll-baiting article if I’ve ever seen one…

    A new service is launched and has a fledgling growth profile – and you already reach a conclusion that it is failing? WTF?

  • 240rider

    Not even beta. It’s a field test!

  • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

    I think the author still has a valid point that the +1 button still adds no value to the end user. Yet.

    YET.

  • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

    You missed the entire point. Good work.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    The article is not about Google+. It is about +1. Most of the commenters are under the impression that I am writing about Google+ which is not true. I wrote about Google +1. However, this confusion is only natural. If a company creates two products with virtually the same name, this is bound to happen. This confusion is one of the points I tried to make in the article.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    This article is not about Google+. It is about Google +1. You don’t need to be on Google+ to use +1. All you need is a Google account. But the naming of the products is so confusing that I had to triple check this comment to make sure I got it right.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    This article is not about Google+. It is about Google +1.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Really? I didn’t know. I will google it but it would be nice if you could write it here.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    This article is about Google +1 not Google+.

  • http://jeffcouturier.com Jeff Couturier

    That doesn’t make one bit of difference for the majority of these comments. The fact that +1 is still very new is something you just didn’t take into account, and without keeping that vital point in mind you can’t possibly come to a logical conclusion about the success or failure of +1.

  • http://jeffcouturier.com Jeff Couturier

    That doesn’t make one bit of difference for the majority of these comments. The fact that +1 is still very new is something you just didn’t take into account, and without keeping that vital point in mind you can’t possibly come to a logical conclusion about the success or failure of +1.

  • http://jeffcouturier.com Jeff Couturier

    That doesn’t make one bit of difference for the majority of these comments. The fact that +1 is still very new is something you just didn’t take into account, and without keeping that vital point in mind you can’t possibly come to a logical conclusion about the success or failure of +1.

  • http://jeffcouturier.com Jeff Couturier

    That doesn’t make one bit of difference for the majority of these comments. The fact that +1 is still very new is something you just didn’t take into account, and without keeping that vital point in mind you can’t possibly come to a logical conclusion about the success or failure of +1.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    :-) . No not really. What I am trying to say is that in reality +1 has nothing to do with Google+. It is almost like they have been developed by two separate companies. In most people’s perception though, +1 is just an extension of Google+. The confusion is so rampant that half of the comments here are about Google+ while the article was actually about +1. :-) . And mind you, the demographic here is tech savvy.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    :-) . No not really. What I am trying to say is that in reality +1 has nothing to do with Google+. It is almost like they have been developed by two separate companies. In most people’s perception though, +1 is just an extension of Google+. The confusion is so rampant that half of the comments here are about Google+ while the article was actually about +1. :-) . And mind you, the demographic here is tech savvy.

  • Iffyfooman123

    You are a doofus

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    It is fair to say that +1 is new and needs time. I have two comments on +1 being new.

    Comment 1: LinkedIn sharing button is also new and even newer than +1 if my memory serves me right. Yet it seems to be getting clicked way more often.

    Comment 2: How long is long enough to form an opinion for a button that doesn’t do anything when clicked?

  • elif

    On google+ theres a “my +1′s” section where you can turn your +1′s into a the equivalent of a fb feed story. when circle members then +1 it, it will increase the placement of that story in other people’s feeds, just like on fb. The only difference is g+ doesn’t automatically spam everything you +1…. That is, imo, a better way.

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Where exactly is this? I can’t seem to find it.

  • Mikegr

    I second the blog. +1 a page does not benefit me anyhow. Delicious helps me find pages later again with the help of tags. But +1 does not have that. No social interaction like Facebook. I stopped it after the third time.

  • http://twitter.com/rennarda Andy Rennard

    I +1ed this article

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    I wrote a follow up post about the points raised in the comments. You can read it here: http://goo.gl/EOMMk