About two weeks ago Google released a beta version of Google+ Project, which was announced to be Facebook’s rival. Most people I’ve spoken to had the attitude of “yet another social network” or “Google is trying to take over the world” or “Google is trying to make up for their Wave flop”.
There are some merits in all of the above. However, there are a few things we may want to consider, before bagging the New Social Network:
Facebook had some really bad publicity (regardless of the fact that in 7 years they amassed 750,000,000 members!) about the fact they have full control of the information their members submit (friends, photos, videos, posts, etc.) and there isn’t a way to export that data.
The Advertising is getting annoying.
The apps and games are getting out of hand…
Google listened carefully to the chatter, plus thought of other ways to incorporate a social network into their other products, and came up with Google +. This project is still in beta, yet there are already (in under 2 weeks!!) more than 10,000,000 users. This is by invitation only, and not everyone can invite, or be invited. For now, anyway.
Some notable features:
Facebook allowed user to add their friends to lists. It is cumbersome, and very few users know how to use it, and how to make the most of it. Sharing information when you have hundreds and sometimes thousands of “friends” (or business contacts) makes it a bit tricky – who should get which update, becomes a question which is very difficult to answer or control.
Google+ allows you to organize friends into circles — such as acquaintances, co-workers, and so on. It is so simple and so “in your face” – it’s just genius.
Users can then choose which circles to share information with, allowing for greater privacy and control over the flow of information.
Hangouts are video chat groups that allow you to talk to up to 10 friends at once. Funny coincidence (?) 3 days after the Google+ Project went live, Facebook announced the integration of Skype, and Videocalls. However, the +Hangout is BY FAR superior, and easier to use, than the Facebook video call.
Perhaps the most useful of all Google Plus’ features is +Sparks, which allows users to suggest news stories, videos, photos, and more to specific users or groups rather than automatically posting it to everyone.
From a business perspective, this can allow for targeted marketing opportunities by focusing on those users who would find your content most useful.
A little less talked about feature, is the fact that every post you see on your home page, you could share with one click to your circle (of choice) and on twitter, and…. wait for it…. on Facebook! And you could also just “like” it, or click on +1, which will be displayed on future search results.
One of the perceived faults of Facebook which really annoyed people, is the fact that you can’t “export” your Facebook friends. Well, this isn’t entirely true. Yahoo! Mail has a way to import your Facebook friends into the contacts area. There isn’t an obvious option to add your Facebook friends into Google+, but using Yahoo!Mail as a conduit, can work well.
I’ve described it with some screen shots in the following presentation:
Google+ is already winning praise for its increased security and privacy controls. Photos and videos are automatically marked private until you select who can see them. This is especially useful for businesses by giving them greater control over their brand and their messaging.
Google + is already integrated with Blogger, Picasa (Google photos), Gmail, and other Google products. And overall, Google+ appears to be making social networking a more streamlined process that could have a great impact with its simplicity.
It ain’t perfect, but it’s getting better everyday.