Google has announced their own rival to the Facebook "Like" button: +1.

Which is better? Let's give them a look.

Facebook "Like"

The Facebook "Like" button appears on a webpage. When a Facebook user clicks it, their name may be listed next to the button, and a note about it will appear on their Wall.

Google +1

The Google +1 button appears next to search results and ads on Google (at the moment, it only appears if you've activated the +1 "experiment" in your Google preferences).

If you click the button, your name may appear next to it when people who Google knows are connected to you see it, and it gets added to a page on your Google Profile (you can keep the page private or make it public).

In the future (apparently in a few months), a "+1" button will be available for use on websites the way the Facebook "Like" button is now.

At present, +1 doesn't affect search rankings, but it may in the future (Google will certainly be looking at the data to see whether it'd be a useful addition to their ranking formula).

Let's Compare & Contrast

  • The +1 button is available in one place: search results. Like is available all over the web. [Facebook win -- will become Google win when the +1 button rolls out]
  • The +1 button is available on all Google search results. Like is available only on pages where the website owner has placed it. [Google win -- will become a bigger Google win with the +1 button]
  • +1s may show up any time one of your connections performs a search. Likes essentially disappear once they've scrolled far enough down your Wall. [Google win]
  • To +1 something, you have to return to the search results (unless you +1 it before clicking through to it). You can Like something right on the page. [Facebook win -- will become Google win when the +1 button rolls out]
  • +1 is shown to others at the moment when they're searching for something. Like is displayed when they're looking at the places where it shows up on Facebook, and when you're already on the Liked page. [Difficult to call -- probably a Google win when the +1 button rolls out. But for influencing heavy Facebook users, Facebook Likes may never be beaten.]
  • Your +1s are shown to people connected to you through Google Chat, GMail, Contacts, Reader and Buzz. Your Likes are shown to people connected to you through Facebook. [Facebook win? Google will probably expand to Twitter contacts, etc., which would make it a Google win -- more on that below.]

Deeper Implications

One big difference I see between +1 and Like is the nature of the social connections and places where your votes are displayed.

Reader Comment:
halı yıkama said:
I wonder if it also has a dislike feature which is frequently abused for example on YouTube. I understand that any rating counts for more than no rating but rating with the intention to do harm rather than good to someone is pathetic.
(join the conversation below)

After a brief stint using my Facebook profile for both personal and business connections, I now use it only for friends and family (with just a few business contacts "grandfathered" in). Because of this, I'm unlikely to Like something that I don't think would interest my friends and family.

Since my +1s aren't going to be displayed so aggressively to my personal contacts, I wouldn't think twice about voting for something I like.

When (if?) Google starts displaying my +1s to my Twitter followers, a lot more people will be seeing them than my Facebook Likes. And those people will be mostly be business contacts.

As I mentioned last month, Google's displaying information about who's shared what in search results makes having lots of social connections more valuable. Even if your followers are only vaguely aware of who you are (ie. even if they're "fauxlowers"), there'll still be an element of social proof in having your recommendations shown to them.

+1 will only make this more true.

Final Verdict

I expect Google's +1 to become a more powerful force than Facebook's Like button. Facebook's two saving graces are that:

  1. the strength of the average social connection between Facebook friends is greater than that between the average Google contacts.
  2. heavy Facebook users will see more Likes than +1s, because +1 only shows up in connection to things you're looking for or have already found.