Google +1 has been in general release for two weeks now with an adoption that has already surpassed Twitter Share and Instant Follow combined. That is according to a story by VatorNews which cites a study of the adoption of social plugins by BrightEdge Research shown here. For colleges and universities the launch of Google +1 presents both a small challenge and a larger one.

The smaller of the two challenges for schools from Google +1 is whether or not to add it as another social plugin to existing web sites and to grow a presence in the social network. Since most institutions are already strapped for resources, adding another social network to support might be more than can be reasonably supported given expectations of community members. The temptation will certainly be there to simply add Google +1 to your Hoosuite or feed but getting to a fully engaged presence will be more challenging.

The bigger issue is in setting policy around this decision and others like it. Think of this like the decision to have Coke or Pepsi products in campus vending machines. The institution doesn’t particularly care except where the vendor might offer incentives for placing one product over another. So too might go the decision to include one social network on your institutions web site over others. After all, you are supporting the commercial interests of Facebook, Twitter, Google and the others by including their buttons instead of other networks. For the larger institutions with serious site traffic, this is no small matter.

So why not get out ahead of this now before it becomes a problem. Since you almost certainly have procurement rules for competitive bidding and RFP’s on services, and you very likely have policies for allowing “vendors” on campus, adding something to any one of these guidelines to codify how the social network support decisions will be made will go a long way to strengthen your IT or marketing governance model and create defensibility for any future challenges.

NOTE: I added Google +1 to my plugins today and eliminated others – share away.