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Google Bares Its Fangs at Facebook With +1

Aaron Steinfeld

When you think of Facebook, what do you think of? Social media? Friends? Sharing thoughts, links and pictures? Stalking that guy or girl you like without them knowing you’re taking in all their personal business they post for your salvation? Awkward, I know. How about Google? Searching, of course. Directions to your soon-to-be favorite restaurant? Checking Email? How about social sharing and social networking? Say hello to Google’s +1 and check out the video embedded to the right.

Indeed, Google is no stranger to the Internet and social media landscape.  After all, they have ownership of a few names you may recognize, such as YouTube, Blogger, Orkut and Google Talk. But why stop there? With its online rival Facebook’s popularity only increasing, it’s hard to miss all the Like buttons throughout the Internet and what their sheer quantity represents in ad dollars. Leah Pearlman on Facebook writes:

We've just introduced an easy way to tell friends that you like what they're sharing on Facebook with one easy click. Wherever you can add a comment on your friends' content, you'll also have the option to click "Like" to tell your friends exactly that: "I like this."

This is similar to how you might rate a restaurant on a reviews site. If you go to the restaurant and have a great time, you may want to rate it 5 stars. But if you had a particularly delicious dish there and want to rave about it, you can write a review detailing what you liked about the restaurant. We think of the new "Like" feature to be the stars, and the comments to be the review.

Google saw an opportunity to regain advertising revenue here. And furthermore, they’ve almost blatantly copied Facebook (and I have very little issue with that):

The +1 button is shorthand for "this is pretty cool" or "you should check this out."

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1's can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results.

The major hurdle Google has to face is that the +1 feature can only be utilized (upon its activation) by people who have a Google account, which is, of course, free. As a company, Google is known for success and innovation. Adding social aspects to it's well-polished search feels like a no-brainer, but will +1 challenge the Facebook juggernaut? Pull up a chair, get some popcorn, and let’s see who has the next big idea. CJP

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