On Tuesday 28th June Google launched Google+, its latest attempt to conquer the social world. With the failure of Google Wave and Buzz hanging over their heads, Google held its breath and rolled out the ‘invite only’ entry to create a Google+ profile.
In just over 2 weeks Google+ surpassed 10 million users and 1 billion items were being shared everyday.
So far, so good…
Having spoken to several people over the last week to gauge reactions there seems to be two main camps: (1) the ‘not another’ social network camp and (2) the ‘it has some great features and I love it already’ camp.
I completely understand the feelings of the first group. To those who don’t live and breathe the online social world, adding another platform to the mix will seem very daunting, however there are definitely some powerful reasons to considered getting involved on Google+
Power Features of Google+
Google+ has circles which allows you to group your contacts however you wish, so you can have a ‘family’ circle, a ‘work’ circle, a ‘friends’ circle etc. You can name the circles however you want and the people you place in each circle will only be told that you have added them to a circle, not the name of the circle. So you are free to divide up your contacts however you see fit and in complete privacy.
This also means that when you post a comment, share an article or photo, that you can limit which circles see the post. Meaning you can share photos of your family holiday with your parents, but the photos from your night in the pub with friends.
This is a particularly powerful feature and although (if you dig deep enough) you could do the same thing with Facebook, it was clunky to use, whereas Google+ does it with ease.
Google’s answer to Skype. Google chat already allowed video calls through Gmail, but these hangouts allow for multiple users to video chat, something skype will only allow on their paid plan.
Anyone can start a hangout and up to 10 people can join and video chat.
Rumours have already been circulating that Dell plan to use Hangouts for customer service.
Huddle allows you to group text people in your circle and is being pushed as a convenient way to make plans with friends by sending one message to a circle to which everyone can respond and see everyone elses answers, instead of sending individual messages to 10 different people.
Related: How Well Do You Know Google?
Google vs. Facebook
There have been reports for some time that Facebook was in decline, and this was being partly put down to the fact that many younger people did not want to be on a network with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. These people were looking elsewhere for a new, more private network. Google+ will however, not only offer a new network, but new features (can’t you just see already now how much teenagers will love the Hangouts!) and also an ability to pick and choose what they share, and with whom, should the rest of the family ever show up.
Google is also already dialled into your interests by having access to your email, search history and purchase history. Google in short has a much more complete picture of you – scary it may be – but it’s true – Facebook only has access to your social network profile.
Facebook probably doesn’t have to worry too much just yet, however I’ve no doubt that all this talk of Google+ doesn’t fill them full of enthusiasm. There was even a story recently about how Facebook had banned someone advertising their Google+ account via Facebook ads.
Google+ For Business
Business Profiles: With the increasing numbers of people on Google+ it was inevitable that businesses would start creating profiles. Initially Google deleted the business profiles saying that Google+ was for ‘people only’, however it has now rolled out beta testing for a chosen few businesses and some, such as Mashable News, have been using it effectively for the last couple of weeks. It will only be a matter of time before the rest of us have access to create a Google+ business profile.
Search: Google+ will impact search. Google has access to Twitter but not Facebook, which has been giving Bing an advantage in the social search stakes. Google aims to take back control with its version of the ‘like’ button, the +1, which is currently being used 2.3 billion times a day.
Integration: Google+ business pages will tie together Google Places, Google Local, Google Deals, Google Maps etc. … this will be powerful.
First Mover Advantage: The first company in any space always has an advantage. The companies who were first on Facebook certainly did, and the companies who jump on the Google+ wagon will undoubtedly as well.
Related: The End Of Google Analytics?
Have you used Google+ yet? What has your experience been?