Google has finally made a shot at Facebook by launching their new social network Google+. This could have huge implications on social media if it really is embraced and takes off.
Google has been working on this for a while, and hasn’t been too successful in the past with other “social” product attempts like “Google Buzz”. But will Google Plus be a turning point in their social success, or will it fizzle out like previous flames?
What is Google Plus?
Currently in BETA testing to a limited number of people, Google Plus is a bizarre makeup of Circles, Sparks and Hangouts. According to Google:
Circles: The easiest way to share some things with college buddies, others with your parents and almost nothing with your boss.
Hangouts: Let friends know that you’re free for a video hangout, any time, anywhere. Then catch up, watch YouTube or… just hangout.
Sparks: A feed of only the things that you’re really into, so when you’re free, there’s always something waiting to be watched, read or shared.
There are mixed reviews and feelings across the web, and I thought I would share what I’ve read.
“Now, I’m not ready to leave either network, but I found a new place. It’s like the new pub no one knows about and only a few locals go to hangout and chat. It’s like a new band who you follow and download all the music before they go mainstream. It’s like a book or movie with a cult following that suddenly takes off.”
“It is definitely a work in progress, as Google says, but it’s one definitely worth checking out if you can snag an invite. They’ve added quite a few things we haven’t seen in other social networks, making it a compelling service. Hit the link below to request an invite, and now that you’ve seen a bit more of what it’s like, share your thoughts with us in the comments.”
“Google has nibbled at the edges of the social web with Google Buzz and Orkut, but now with Google+ they are going straight for the social identity space that Facebook dominates.”
“At its heart however, Google is still all about search. They understand that searches, and the ads that are delivered as a result of them (which is where the money is), need to be more relevant to the user in terms of their own location and their own social profile.”
“So far, one thing I notice about Google+, is that you get rewarded for starting and carrying on good conversations. Wow, doesn’t that sound like the Kumbaya phase of social media? Well, it’s true inside of Google+, at least for now. There’s a ranking system that puts people’s most interacted-with stuff at the top of the stream of information, such that the most talked-about pieces are the most relevant. To that end, conversation certainly matters.”
“As far as Google’s unique selling proposition, or USP… one of the big selling points, at least Google hopes so, is that is designed specifically for sharing with groups, i.e. friends, family, co-workers etc., rather than with all of another user’s friends and more importantly, the entire internet like say on Facebook.
Not sure if that alone will be enough to convince people to use yet another social network, even it does come with the Google name attached to it… again, I offer Google Buzz, Orkut and Google Wave as Exhibits A, B and C as to why just having the Google name on something does not guarantee future success.”
“The third advantage would be the ability to create video conferences (huddles) with one or more of your contacts. While not something Facebook particularly cares about (yet), it’s certainly something that has the potential to eat into Skype’s business model. And unlike Skype, it’s integrated into the Google+ platform, so no additional applications need to be run (and if you think Microsoft isn’t planning on integrating Skype into all their online offerings, you haven’t been paying attention). And since Facebook doesn’t currently offer multi-way video conferencing, the advantage goes to Google+.”
As this new Google development into Social Networking unfolds, it will be definitely interesting to watch. Facebook is in need of a serious competitor. Whether Google should be that competitor is another question. But who else is big enough or cares enough to take on facebook?
What do you think?