Google Goes Social with Google+
- July 20, 2011 by David McClurg, Digital Director
The digital scene received a jolt on June 28th when Google added a “+” to its name and launched Google+. Although Facebook is currently the dominant social network, don’t discount this latest entry by Google. With the largest mobile operating system in the world (at least by year’s end) there are several million Android fanboys out there. Don’t forget the millions of other Google customers that trust the online behemoth on a daily basis for a variety of services.
Although still in its infancy, Google+ or “G+” as some have taken to calling it, has been a prominent discussion within the social sphere since its launch and is quickly approaching 20 million users. In case you haven’t had the opportunity to explore it, or if you had questions on how to dive in, we gave it a test drive for you. Here are our thoughts.
What Google+ Is
- Google+ is not scary. It’s just a robust social network, integrated with Google’s existing applications such as your Google profile, Gmail, Documents, Calendar as well as Picasa and others.
- It’s very similar to Facebook. You can share updates, photos, videos and links just like on your Facebook wall – though Google+ calls this the stream.
- It’s not EXACTLY like Facebook. In fact, in many ways it’s better. You can create “Circles,” a feature that enables you to organize your contacts into groups and customize the information you see and share in your stream.
- It has brand new toys to play with. For example, “Hangouts,” which allows you to facilitate group video chats for up to 10 participants (a great option for those with a virtual commute).
- Google+ offers a myriad of mobile options. Though only for Android phone users, these include instant upload of photos and videos captured on your phone. “Huddles” is one tool we especially enjoyed that allows you to send SMS messages to a group within your circles.
- It’s well designed, and free of noise and ads. The interface design is clean, easy to use and built with features such as drag and drop for organizing your circles.
What Google+ Isn’t
- Prepared for brand participation. Currently, brands and organizations are not able to create official profiles, though some are finding work-a-rounds to do this and claim their space. Google has discouraged these “non-user” profiles, and in many instances deleting them. They’ve indicated brands will have more opportunity to engage later this year.
- A Facebook or Twitter replacement. While Google+ currently enables you to import your contacts from Yahoo or Hotmail accounts, there is no mechanism to import contacts from Facebook or Twitter. To be certain, though Google+ has grown at a phenomenal rate (reports list Google+ with 18 million users as of July 20th), it doesn’t come close to Facebook’s 750 million users.
- An open-source platform for app developers. For the time being, there is no program application interface that would allow developers to build apps into Google+. We think this might be a good thing – at least you won’t be spammed with requests from your friends to help them tend to their sheep or fertilize their crops.
Google+ is uniquely positioned to be a one-stop-shop for your social experiences. It has the potential to be the one place where you check your email, upload photos, catch up on your RSS reader etc – but it won’t take dominance over Facebook until it builds more momentum and expands it’s reach. We’re interested to see how it continues to evolve and grow over the next few months. Google has been very upfront that they consider Google+ to be a work in progress.
Have you gotten your Google+ on yet? What do you think? +1?
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