Google launched its +1 button a few days ago. Some say it’s google’s attempt to try social. Some say it’s just an element in a more coherent social strategy. Some say it’s a move into or towards (better) social search. Some say it’s a direct answer to the like button. All we know is, it won’t work. Not this way.
Saying google is not good at social is too easy. Saying it’s because of the reign of the engineers at google is too easy. People are not good at social. That’s the real problem of the +1 button. People are merely intrested in themselves. Social starts with me and my social circle.
+1 does not have a (social) ecosystem behind it. Unlike tweeting or liking a post or a website, a +1 is merely a shot in the dark. 20% of all search queries on google have never been done before, let alone how many are unique to the user who do them. Chances are that no-one will ever see your +1. The absence of this direct impact will withhold people to use it. Why would they?
Chances are, they won’t use the +1 for keeping track of most liked personal search results too. Most searches I do are very here and now. I’m looking for news, a place, information. Once I have that, I either use it or save it in some way or the other. Into my delicious account, just copy-and-pasting or saving as a google doc or evernote file. I try everything not to make a search again.
Then again Google has been quite good at serving the results you want for quite some time now. Localisation. Social input from the twitter and other firehoses. Real time search results. Why would any user bother to help them it it were not for personal or social reasons. Either to help people find your sites (as I will most certainly do) or those of your friends or colleagues.
The lack of instant gratification you get from posting a link to other social networks will be an issue for google untill they roll out their social project. I’m a believer in +1 but I don’t think I believe in people being able to use it. As was the case with Google Wave.