Oops… you need a Google profile to use this feature

Oops… you need a Google profile to use this feature

A message that people will be seeing a lot more of is this:

Oops… you need a Google profile to use this feature
Google profiles is not available for your organization

This is a direct result of the launch of Google’s new ‘plus one’ (+1) feature that launched yesterday.

+1 is Google’s answer to social sharing. It’s their version of the Facebook ‘Like’ button as well as the myriad other social sharing buttons that are out there – Digg, Stumbleupon and Tweet to name but a few.

Currently, the only New Zealand company to step up to the plate and create a New Zealand specific social sharing function is innovative web directory NZS.com that recently launched NZS.com Likes.

Google Plus One

You can view this video to find out more about how Google’s plus one button works to help shape and personalise your individual search results and ads across the web, as well as those of your network.

At present, the +1 button itself only appears next to Google search results on google.com (not google.co.nz) and only when you are signed into a Google account while you search. At this stage, it also appears that the button only appears while using certain browsers; Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Safari all displayed the +1 button but, for me, Firefox didn’t. Have you ┬áseen otherwise? Let us know in the comments below.

However, while the button may display, it may not actually be functional. And this brings me to ‘Oops… you need a Google profile to use this feature‘.

Like other social sharing buttons, most only work when you hold an account with that particular social network. You can’t Tweet something if you don’t have a Twitter account and (most of the time at least) you can’t Like something if you don’t have a Facebook account.

The issue with Google +1 will probably be more apparent than that of other social networks as Google search results are so much more widely used, making the +1 button more prominent.

As the error message suggests, you’ll need a Google profile before you can +1 something. Note that we’re not just talking about a Google account/Gmail account.

Google Profiles

Google profiles are similar to Facebook profiles in that they feature information about you on a single page on the Internet. You can also link them to your various online accounts so that people can easily find your other networks.

A Google profile is also required by Google +1. When you +1 something, the website will appear in a list on a tab on your Google profile that is only visible to you while you’re logged in. It’s a handy way of reviewing your +1’s and bookmarking your favourite sites, articles and blog posts. Mine looks like this:

Plus 1 on Google Profile

While this tab is only visible to you, it’s worth knowing that Google displays a message saying that your +1’s are actually publicly visible when you +1 a search result. This actually contradicts their own terms that say that you can not use the +1 button on your own site to find out information about those that have +1’d your content.

I have a Google Account, why can’t I have a Google Profile?

If you have a Google account but you still receive the message saying that Google profiles isn’t available for your organisation, it’s simply because the company that you work for has set up their email system using Google Apps. This provides users with email access and other apps through the same interface as used for Gmail.

However, the +1 feature doesn’t seem to support these Google accounts that are set up through Google Apps for business as, by default, Google profiles are not enabled for these accounts.

Google Plus 1Google appears to be trying to encourage people to set up their own personal Google account and create a personal Google profile which, to some extent, makes sense as you wouldn’t want to create a Google profile under a company account and then not have access to that profile when you leave the company.

The result is that Google has made this feature far less usable. For those that have a business Google account, Google wants you to log out of that account, log in to your own personal account and then hit the +1 on a search result.

For those of us that are already doing this, this actually exposes a major pain-in-the-ass flaw with Google accounts. When you sign out of your Google account while on a search results page, you also sign out of that account on every other Google app, tab and window that you have open. So you’ll lose your email window, your Google docs window, those analytics you were looking at and more, just so you can +1 a search result.

Hopefully Google address their account switching issues soon, otherwise the Google +1 feature will be shunned by Google’s most active users.

In the mean time, you can find out how to add the plus one button to your blog or website (rather than in search results) by checking out the guide over on NZ Blogs.