I got my invitation to Google’s latest effort to take on the world of Social Media, Google+
I always love trying out new things, it’s like getting a new toy that is so full of promise and something you feel might just be everything you hope.
I love Google+.
It’s most talked about feature is “circles”. Using circles makes it a cinch to put friends into groups – family, colleagues, friends, whatever. People can be in multiple circles. And controlling which people see your posts is really easy. It is a great feature and one that trumps Facebook. Facebook’s managing of lists has always been clumsy with far too much effort. So Google+ scores big with that one.
A feature of circles I love is the ability to quickly and easily see only feeds from selected circles. If you don’t want to see everyones updates simply select the circle you want to see. A great way to keep the newsfeed (sorry, stream) clean.
Other new features:
Sparks: Following topics of interest is a breeze. Simply search for a topic that interests you and then add it to your Sparks and you’re now following that topic.
Hangout: Start a group video chat with up to 10 friends. Hangouts can also be used to watch a YouTube video as a group.
Many other features are very similar to Facebook – adding links, video and pictures to post is easy. And of course the “like” button is now the “+1′ button.
The look and feel is clean and minimalistic as is Google’s wont. In all other respects it’s like a new look Facebook and does many things that Facebook has pioneered.
So it looks good, feels good and will probably do the job. But the questions is: Will people sign up? Coming up against Facebook with its 665 million users is not easy.
Why change? Anyone with an established community on Facebook will need a very good reason to change. Is the social web big enough for two massive social media platforms?
But perhaps this is the reason: Google has a huge advantage over Facebook with its existing services. Last year Facebook introduced a mail system that hasn’t really gone anywhere. Google already has a firmly established mail system in Gmail. On top of that there’s Picassa for photos, YouTube for videos and the ability to fully integrate the “+1” feature into its search.
Interestingly Google+ just received an endorsement from the co-founder of MySpace, Tom Anderson.
Because of Google’s many excellent existing products I believe strongly that Google+ will gain traction. I further predict that an interconnectivity between Facebook and Google+ will be inevitable. This will be a case of “mutually assured survival” as the world is not big enough to have two giant social media platforms in isolation. To draw a poor analogy, you can’t have two massive cell phone networks that don’t allow you to call the others network.
I imagine there are going to be a few tense meetings at Facebook’s Palo Alto offices.