If you have a Gmail account, you may have
noticed a strange little square containing a “+1”

next to your Google search results in recent weeks.  If you don’t have a Gmail account, you may have heard whispers of “Google +1” and thought “okay, I’ll bite: what does Google +1 equal?”  Fortunately, Google +1 isn’t a secret code or a complicated equation.

Google +1 is Google’s version of the Facebook “Like” button.  Similar to the Facebook “Like” button, you can grab code from Google to put a “+1” button on your website.  Also similar to Facebook, you must have a public profile on Google+ (www.plus.google.com) in order to use the Google +1 feature.

Here’s how it works: once you’ve created your public profile on Google+, you will begin seeing little “+1” buttons next to all your Google search results.  If you particularly approve of a result and want everyone to know, click the “+1” button.  Now, whenever one of your Google + contacts runs across the same search result, they will see that you have given that result your +1 seal of approval.  So while the whole set-up does have the same flavor as what Facebook has been doing for a while, Google’s approach has the potential to allow you to share your favorite bits of the entire searchable internet universe – as long as your friends and family are signed up too.

+1 Pros:

  • Takes the bandwagon concept to a whole new level.   Now the page owner doesn’t have to have installed a “Like” button for you to show your approval; Google does it for you on every search result.
  • +1 buttons can also be manually installed on your website for even more +1 exposure
  • You can control which of your “social connections” sees your +1s, and which of theirs you see
  • Clean, uncluttered user interface
+1 Cons:

  • You must sign up for yet another social account, one that by necessity is mostly public.  If you’re not logged into a Google+1 account, the +1 buttons are not visible.
  • Any information you provide for the “About Me” section of your Google+ profile is public
  • Once you +1 something, you can’t hide or “un+” it.
  • Some concern has been expressed about the possibility of splitting your approval results between Facebook “Likes” and Google +1s.

Conclusion: If you don’t mind pretty much anyone and everyone having access to your profile and +1 opinions, Google+1 is a cool toy and an interesting alternative to Facebook.  Whether +1 will ever reach the level of integration that Facebook has attained, only time will tell.


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