Google+ is widely viewed as Google’s latest attempt at entering the social media space. However, Google is positioning Google+ as an upgrade to the Google platform, rather than simply a social media platform. It will become an umbrella which eventually incorporates all of Google’s applications. Google’s mission is to “organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful” so Google+ is a logical next step.
Google does need a presence in social media in order to stay relevant. They need a source of social signals for their search algorithms and naturally Facebook is not sharing its data with them. After trying Orkut (still popular in Brazil and India), Jaiku, Wave and Buzz, it looks like Google got it right with Google+. It has grown to over 250 million users in one year.
Since comparisons with Facebook are inevitable, here are some things that make Google+ different:
Although Facebook offers pages for brands, organizations and events as well as advertising, it is primarily a social networking platform. Google+ will eventually integrate Google’s products such as Search, Google Local, Gmail, Google Documents, You Tube, Reader, Blogger, Android, and others in addition to its social media capabilities. This sets it apart from social networking platforms.
Another major difference is that Google+ has said that it will not have any advertising, which makes for a better user experience. Google has the advantage of a large stream of advertising revenue through Adwords so it does not need to rely on advertising income on its social media platform as does Facebook.
Google+ Circles have been well received by most users as a means of organizing their contacts. It is intuitive and very easy to use. Facebook does allow you to organize your contacts, but the Circles model is simpler. Unlike Facebook, Circles allow you to add someone to your Circles and follow their public posts even if they don’t add you to their Circles.
Hangouts have been one of Google+’s most popular applications. Hosting a Hangout allows you to video chat with up to 9 other people for free. You can stream live through your Google+ account, You Tube channel and website. Your broadcast is automatically uploaded to You Tube where you can edit and share it. The applications for Hangouts are limitless.
It will be interesting to see the Google+ strategy plays out over time. Let us know your thoughts on Google+ and how you are using it.