Google plus 1

+1’s are no longer simply the people you have to reluctantly invite to your party because they are your friends’ partners.  Oh no.  Apparently now they’re a “social phenomenon”.

Swept up in all the hubbub, we’ve added the +1 widget to  Rather than talk about how this will “change the face of social sharing”, a few words on the value of the data you get as webmaster.

Integration with Google Analytics

You may have noticed some new reports have appeared in Google Analytics under the heading “Social”.

Under this heading you will be able to view new metrics, like ‘engagement’ and ‘Social actions’.  The smart thing here is that Google gives you code that enables you to measure other social networks actions (i.e. a Facebook ‘like’) and compare analytics measures between them.  This gives the marketeers a measure of the relative value of ‘socially engaged’ vs. ‘not socially engaged’ customers, and the value of a Google ‘+1′ vs. a Facebook ‘like’.

Finally, this means there is the measurability to justify campaigns targeted specifically at driving social action.

It also gives a very powerful measure of ‘popularity’ of your content, especially useful for blogs.

Integration with Webmaster Tools

There is cross over with the data available in Google Analytics here, but also a great deal of extra useful data.

Again, a new section of reports has appeared in Webmaster Tools under the heading ‘+1 Metrics’.

This will show you the volume of ‘+1’s, over time, by page, just like Google Analytics, but it will also give you a demographic breakdown of the audience, by page.  I don’t need to explain how valuable this is…

Integration with Ad Words

You can’t have failed to notice the ‘+1’s appearing on paid (and natural) rankings in Google.  Going back to Google basics, this, they would say, is the very point of the ‘+1′ buttons, to allow people to ‘vote’ for ads based on usefulness and relevancy.  This gives even greater rewards to the careful marketeer that ensures their ads are relevant and well targeted.

The integration with the reports in Ad Words, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools gives the marketeer the data required to assign value to people socially ‘+1’ing their ads.

So what?

So, unlike so many social phenomena, the value of engaging with this particular social movement is measurable and clear.  The question remains however, is it so clear what the benefits are for a web user?  People Facebook ‘like’ a webpage so that they can advertise what they ‘like’ on the Facebook social network.  And there’s the rub, Google isn’t a social network.  If no one will ever know that you’ve +1’d a page, why do it?

The benefits of the scheme are loaded in favour of the webmaster at present.  For ‘+1′ not to go the way of Google’s previous efforts (Buzz, Wave, Jaiku, Lively, Searchmash) it needs to create a social platform that the end users get something back from.