Will G+ send Facebook to MySpaceLand?
Buh bye, Facebook
I’ve had a chance to test drive the new Google Plus (G+ for short) this past week. I think Google finally has a serious entry in the social media oeuvre. G+ will be an additional social media venue, not a replacement. It will take time for humanity — each person, really — to decide how to balance the choices.
G+ is that good. If I were a Mark Zuckerberg, I would shuffle that Facebook IPO to next week.
Google trickled out G+ invites in pulses through the week, mainly to early adopters. The ‘wait-in-line’ strategy seemed to work. All the technerati clamored for ‘invites’ from fortunate friends who had them. Those who got through the chute immediately set to testing the functionality. The general opinion so far is “WOW.”
My first favorable G+ impression was of the simple, clean design. There are no games and no ads… just a lot of beautiful white space and the Google primary colors. I knew at a glance what I could do. Intuition was enough to figure G+ out. And I love that G+ is not blue like its competition (What is it with blue and social media, anyway?)
Google introduces some new concepts in G+. There are ‘Circles,’ groups that give the user simple control of who-sees-what. People in a circle can ‘Hangout’ via crisp video chat with up to ten people in a delightful way. Google Chat is in there as well. Finally, there are ‘Sparks,’ suggested news feeds you may subscribe to.
Since I use my iDevices as much as my corporate laptop and home iMac, I gave G+ a once-over on my iPad and iPhone. The mobile Web interface was exceptional and quite fast. Android users do have a true app in the Android Marketplace. Google promises Apple users their own app “soon.” (As they should, since mobile drives social content more than desktop usage.)
Google has some work to do: my Google Contacts, Reader, Voice, Docs and Gmail still look different from each other and G+. None seems integrated with G+. At times my profile picture shifts. Circles are deceptively simple, an easy concept at first glance, thorough mastery requires a good understanding of logic and Set Theory. I predict normals making ‘circular’ mistakes.
I’d also like to see tagging, tag clouds and trending topics. Google disdains human-managed discovery and ‘folksonomies,’ preferring to nudge the user with search-based algorithms. A shame, because social media means social exploration. People are pretty good at finding things. We like the adjacencies other Homo sapiens create. I have observed people adding hashtags in G+ posts knowing they are useless. Tags are the adjectives of social media language. They are a standard. They must be there.
Another caution: the gossipy technerati love new toys and are happily distracted by them. Early adopters read Mashable first thing each morning with their coffee, parsing through the latest media toy reviews. Could G+ a fad? A social media fashion? This summer’s pink?
Remember Quora? That social phenomenon enflamed them — for a week. Quora was to be the new way to bring worldwide knowledge and collaboration togther. Quora is still here, but the social media class got bored and moved on. Are we seeing an intensified Quora-like infatuation with G+? Perhaps.
G+ is a keeper IF Google decides to keep it. Google is notoriously business-addled with many of its products. Acquired or developed, Google has disappointed fans before by abandoning exciting products like Orkut, Blogger, Wave, and Buzz. One never knows with enigmatic Google. I’ve commented before that Google doesn’t “get” social. Google’s Gnomes are happy to tinker with code and algorithms. Solutions based on human activity seem to bore them.
But maybe not this time.
G+ is good, promisingly good. Will it affect other social media venues? Absolutely. People are tired of devious, cavalier Facebook. Skype should be worried about G+ video Hangouts which are free, have equivalent functionality and just as easy (easier?) to use.
Resistance doesn’t seem futile anymore.
If Google leans into G+ and follows through on its mobile UI and integration intentions, you can expect a migration away from other social media platforms. It will be a matter of how much and how soon. Facebook and LinkedIn may linger for a few years because people have imprinted on them and that is where their social ties are. But humans are fickle. Brokers who add little value and a lot of worry, and treat their customers like raw materials, are readily abandoned. Let’s hope G+ competition improves Facebook, LinkedIn and Skype. Diversity and choices are healthy for the social media ecosystem.
What about Twitter? Early adopters are saying it will lose ground as well. G+ seems to offer overlapping functionality to Twitter’s, I disagree and I’ll argue that Twitter will continue to thrive because it is so simple and fast. It takes seconds to tweet something. Furthermore, Apple is basing its mobile operating system, OS 5, on Twitter. Twitter is not a destination like G+; Twitter is liquid network.
Companies should enroll into G+ when Google gives the ‘all clear’. The +1 button via G+ will have equal market wattage as Facebook’s ‘Like.’ Social SEO? You bet. Google will introduce ‘Pages’ into G+ in the near future. Pages will be the way enterprises cultivate community, brand and presence.
Google’s plans for G+ and businesses
And how about inside the enterprise, that ‘Enterprise 2.0’ stuff? I’m a little more reserved here. Google spooks companies and I don’t see anything in G+ to will change that opinion. I’m not sure Google even cares. Employees will use it anyway, and G+, like any other Socially Transmitted Software (STS) will find its way into the enterprise.
I read this week that “Google+ is a chance for social networkers to start over.” Perhaps we are yearning to free ourselves of adolescent Facebook and boring Linkedin. G+ may be the reset button we seek.