Why Should I Care About Google+?

03 August 2011 | Uncategorized

Most of you should know by now that my chronic lateness extends to technology adoption. Although as a digital recruiter, I reasoned that I should have an opinion about Google+. So, I set out to produce an Executive Summary along the lines of What is it? Why should I care? How is it different/better than Facebook?

My research consisted of reading some trade articles and blogs, doing the demo/tour and talking to some Smarty Pants in the digital/social field, like Jason Chan, Danny Flamberg and Bill Hewson*. The only thing I didn’t do was play around with G+ extensively because I only recently joined.

Here’s what I came up with.

What is it?

The nice people at Google grabbed all the best features from other social networks, e.g. the Like button on FB, Follow and hash tags on Twitter, mixed in Google’s own top performers – like YouTube, Picasa and Maps – and created a killer app that does everything:

  • Contact management
  • Video & photo sharing
  • Newsfeed
  • Recommendation engine
  • Video chat
  • Group texting

But wait there’s more. There are plans to integrate Google Docs, Goggle Games, Google Apps, Google Deals, Google payment systems, etc. If you listen to the hype, you will never have to go anywhere else on the web. You can tweet, text, email, Skype, Like, blog, search, etc. from one central command center.

How is it different/better than Facebook?

On G+, not all friends are created equal. Instead of lumping together family, friends, business contacts, old flames and acquaintances, the Circles feature on G+ allows users to organize their contacts in groups. Finally, you can select which groups you share posts with and even turn off the Retweet functionality. Hallelujah. Now I can trade potty training tips with my mommy friends without making my clients want to barf.

If you’re using Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn for different purposes – social and professional – you could condense these 3 sites and contacts into a few Circles on Google+ and selectively serve up content based on your audience.  Circles can be as large or small/specific as you like (Working Mommies, Book Club, Gym Buddies) and you can change the Circle a contact is in depending on your mood (e.g. downgrade a friend to an acquaintance).

Why Should I Care?

Google+ has posted a major innovation. Its Circles feature could be the equivalent of a moon landing in the evolving social networking landscape. As Google’s VP of Products, Bradley Horowitz puts it: “Google+ is as good for a whisper as it is for a shout.” And with this functionality, Google has bested Facebook’s biggest privacy and sharing letdowns.

Not to mention the marketing implications. Google recently revealed that members are 2-3 times more likely to post in a specific circle, rather than publicly. More posting activity on G+ plus migration from other social networks equals more advertising dollars spent within Google properties. How will this impact search results? Social influence? Will brand engagement and advocacy be more or less elusive within the Circles culture? Will we become savvier about audience-appropriate messaging?

G+ is still in beta, though analysts from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are predicting people and businesses will flock to register once the flood gates open. Take a look at the scorecard since G+’s June 28 launch:

  • In just 1 month since its release, G+ amassed more than 25 million users sharing more than 1 billion pieces of content daily
  • G+ got more than 106,000 mentions in blogs, close to 30,000 news stories and 1.9 million tweets since launch
  • G+ iPhone app is the most popular free application in the Apple app store
  • Google’s stock has gone up 27.85% since the launch of G+

In short, it might be worth creating yet another profile page. See you there.

Join me on Google+

*Many thanks to Danny Flamberg, Bill Hewson and Jason Chan for their contributions to this post.

Bloomberg Businessweek article 7.21.2011

Wikipedia: Google+

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