As most of you probably know by now Google unleashed its latest effort in the social networking space with Google +. You probably know this because the punditry class is out in full force to share their opinion on whether it’s going to be the Facebook Killer. I don’t know if it will be or won’t be, but I’d have to agree with Nimble's Director of PR Brenda Christensen’s view:
Yup, I’d say it has been a successful launch, if only because it did set off a bunch of huffing and puffing about it (apparently leaving little breathing room for the Office 365 launch) – and most of it I’d have to say has been pretty positive. And I’d have to fall into that camp as well after using it for a couple of days, but I’m not going to guess as to whether the success of G+ is going to be the death knell of Facebook as we know it.
I don’t think the whole world is going to have one social network we all will be forced to choose. And I’ve always looked at Google (and its collection of apps, services, etc.) as having the potential of being an important business-centric hub/platform of social interactions. So for me, G+ - even in these early stages – is looking pretty good. And even though Facebook growth is slowing down, I don't know if will go the way of MySpace anytime soon.
This isn't a big full blow-by-blow, for that you will have no problem finding. But I do like G+, and here are a few high level things that made G+ an easy, almost seamless addition to my work stream... or will, when the G+ iPhone app is available...
The Squares Get The Circle
For those of you not old enough to remember Hollywood Squares, it was a game show tic-tac-toe featuring celebrities in the squares who answered questions – and the contestants would have to guess if the answers were true or false in order to get an “X” or an “O”. And one of the catchphrases from the show was “Circle Gets The Square”. This phrase immediately came to mind as I saw all my geek brethren getting so excited about the Circles concept – although I guess that would really be The Squares Get The Circles… but I am right there with them on this.
It’s such an easy concept, but when you’re trying to juggle a bunch of different types of relationships – and the exponentially increasing number of interactions that come with each new relationship, the ease of using circles to categorize and arrange these relationships becomes very important. And G+ Circles are great for making it easy to share information and interact with people in specific contexts, not blasting certain “circle-centric” things to everybody you’re connected to.
Nicely Integrated Into Gmail
I may be a dinosaur, but I am still email-centric in my approach to things. Yes I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and some others for social networking, but the most important interactions take place in the Old World – phone and email. That’s because I’m more of a 1-on-1/ VSG (very small group) interactionalist (I know that is not a word) than a Mass Socializer. So I focus more heavily on email, instant message, phone (audio and video) than I do on the mass group interactions – although I do hang out there when I need to.
Google has done a nice job of layering G+ on top of the foundation they’ve put together with Gmail, chat, Google Voice and Google Apps – making it as easy to engage your circles as any other kind of Google activity. It makes it easy to adopt G+ from the standpoint of interaction workflow…for folks like me who don’t spend a majority of time on social networks. But this could possibly make it easier for more email-centric folks to embrace social activities, as they’re able to more easily extend outward from their comfort zone.
And you have to like the Hangout approach to video conversations G+ takes:
I don’t have an Android phone - so this is still wishful thinking for me. But after seeing the below video on G+ for Android, I’m looking forward to when they get around to making an iPhone app for this…which they say is coming shortly.
There’s No People On It
I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I’ve heard many people say that one of the drawbacks right not is that they don’t have that many people on it. For me that’s a selling point, as I get to really try to build circles to manage relationships in a way I couldn’t do on Facebook or Twitter - and the people on G+ right now are GREAT for me, as there is comparitively very little LAMMP in my face - Look At Me Marketing & Promotion. And also I’ll have a shot at understanding how to transition more naturally between circle interactions and 1-on-1 interactions. I’m hoping that Google or third party developers get busy around this, and provide us with some cool analytics that will help in this area.
I admit I’m not looking at this as a potential new marketing/branding platform, as there will be no shortage of people doing that. I’m just looking at it as a way to more effectively and efficiently build solid relationships that suits the way I interact with the world. And G+ adds another set of interaction/collaboration opportunities to go along with email, IM, voice, video, and realtime document sharing/editing, etc... And it will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.
I think G+ is off to a pretty good start, but I'll leave the FB Killer discussion to other folks.