Google has always had a reputation for trying to go one step further, with one more idea, one more way of mining data, one more way of making more money, and one more way of making SEO marketing companies work harder than ever! But this week sees the introduction of another of Google’s ‘one’ ideas, although as it’s dangerously close to social marketing, we’re not really convinced that it’s a winner. However, it’s important you’re not just aware of what they’ve introduced, but how it will affect both your business and your own privacy and reputation.

Google + 1 ButtonWe’ve all grown very used to seeing Facebook’s ‘Like’ button everywhere, from blog posts to articles and web content. This has quickly become a key way for us to assess the popularity of content, and recommend it to our friends, colleagues or followers. Google is now hoping it can hop on the same bandwagon by offering its ‘+1’ button, which is designed to work in much the same way. If you see a blog post, article or web page you like, then either as well as clicking the Facebook ‘Like’ button or instead of clicking it, you can choose to click the Google ‘+1’ button.

This immediately seems a little odd. We might be okay with clicking the Facebook ‘Like’ button, but why would we click the Google +1 button too? Most of us have the same followers on each, so we’re only repeating ourselves. It seems a little unlikely to work, but then, that might not be a huge surprise given Google’s reputation within the world of social media marketing.

facebook like button logoPerhaps you remember Orkut? That was Google’s attempt to provide a service a little similar to MySpace, but whilst it has enjoyed modest popularity in some places, you’ll find plenty of experienced internet marketers who have never even heard of it, let alone used it.

Then there was Lively, Google’s answer to Second Life, another social media experiment. Don’t worry if you have never heard of Lively – it was shut down after six months back in 2008.

More probable is that you have heard of Google Buzz, which was Google’s answer to Twitter. The only real buzz about Buzz was the fact that it ended up upsetting the Federal Trade Commission, landing Google in some difficulties with regard to privacy issues.

So with all of the flops and failures this behemoth of the online world has experienced within the world of social media you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d learned their lesson and were going to give up. But not Google – they’re back again, and determined to make their +1 feature a success. Time will tell, but in the meantime, what should you be aware of from the point of view of your business, and your own privacy?

#1 The first thing to consider is whether to integrate another voting system into your blog or website. Do you want to split your votes across multiple traffic streams or focus on one, building up a bigger base in one location? This is really not something which we can advise on in general as it will vary from one business to another, but it’s important to realise that most people are only going to click on one ‘vote’ button – either Facebook or Google+1.

#2 The other thing to consider is whether you actually do want everything you vote for using the Google+1 shared with the world. Every time you click the Google+1 that vote will be seen by everyone in your Google account – friends, family, co workers, colleagues, clients and businesses. Once voted, you can’t retract or hide that vote, and so you need to think very carefully about the implications of your voting in a way that’s much more significant than with Facebook’s ‘Like’ voting system.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons, but with Google’s track record in social marketing we wouldn’t advocate ditching Facebook just yet.