My experience with +1 is the same -- people use the FB like button, they don't use the +1 button. I never used a "strategy" with the like button, I just put it on my site and people started clicking it immediately, and have continued clicking it. Not so with the +1, I have zero or close to zero clicks even on pages with thousands of likes.
We need to educate users about what the +1 button is.
One approach might be to call attention to the button as part of your conversion or post-conversion process (if you have anything resembling a conversion process). People involved in a conversion event will presumably be your most loyal users and might click the button if you explicitly ask them to.
@MrSavage, yes, you can ask people to click the button. You just can't give them anything of value in exchange for clicks. From Google's +1 button policy:
Publishers may not direct users to click the +1 Button for purposes of misleading users. Publishers should not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for +1 Button clicks. For the avoidance of doubt, Publishers can direct users to the +1 Button to enable content and functionality for users and their social connections. When Publishers direct users to the +1 Button, the +1 action must be related to the Publishers’ content and the content or functionality must be available for both the visitor and their social connections.
@aristotle look at the bottom of this page. Also, I think you and courier are missing the point. Shatner reported that users are clicking the FB like button (mine do too), so the problem isn't that the site isn't good enough for users to want to promote it or that they don't want to bother or whatever. At least some people are interested in promoting the site, that's why they click the like button. The question is, why don't the same people also click the +1 button?
I think the answer is obvoius: people are far more invested in their FB profile than they are in their Google profile (if they even have one or know they have one). They FB-like stuff because they want their friends to know what they're interested in. They don't really care what people in their Google network know (again, if they even have a Google account and/or know or care that they have an account and a network with Google.)
Google simply hasn't obtained enough traction as a social network (yet).
Nonetheless, I expect we might be able to get some users to click it if we strongly encourage them to do so.
@nmjudy I am logged out of Google and I still see the button on my site. Presumably you're talking about the one in the SERPs, which I don't think was the topic of the thread.