June 30, 2011
Lindsey weighed in this morning with some hopeful but hesitant thoughts about the new but yet unseen Google+ (or Google Plus, if you’re a search engine). I was lucky enough to get my hands on an invite last night (thanks, Sarah!), and I shared the love with several colleagues at Fast Horse.
We’ve been geeking out for a while now, and we thought we’d share some early thoughts about the new tool and its potential impact on business communication.
First, my immediate reaction upon joining up last night: It’s friggin’ pretty. It’s so clean and slick and fast. By comparison, the busy, cluttered Facebook interface seems downright nauseating. And the mobile app (at least for my Android phone) is equally slick, putting Facebook’s Android experience to shame.
Upon digging in a bit deeper — sharing some photos, posting updates, commenting on other people’s posts, etc. — Google+ seems to contain the best of Facebook and FriendFeed (which was founded former Google folk and later acquired by Facebook) and even some features reminiscent of the once buzzed-about Google Wave.
The ability to sort, manage and share stuff with your friends based on lists — a bolted-on afterthought on sites like Facebook and Twitter — is effortless and effective. I can easily share updates with just the people I want to, and it’s so simple to add to and move people between lists, called Circles.
The Android app has a killer option called Instant Upload. When enabled, the app instantly and automatically uploads any photo or video I take on my phone to a private album within Google+. From there, I can just leave them (for my own viewing or just as a backup) or share them with the world — or any Circle subset thereof.
And it’s with these easy-to-manage Circles and some other features that Google+ presents some interesting business communication opportunities. Imagine creating a Circle that consists of all members of a client-agency team and being able to share updates and links and even participate in group video chats (another standard Google+ feature) with those folks. That has the potential to infringe on the space reserved for bigger, clunkier, less social, more expensive business software — like Outlook, WebEx and more.
Bob Ingrassia’s Two Cents:
Social Media Fatigue — I think this is a significant hurdle. I’m a bit a burned out with creating and maintaining social networks. My big three are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve got accounts with at least 30 other social sites (not kidding!) but the vast majority of those I signed up for out of professional curiosity and use sparingly, if at all. So here comes Google+ and another learning curve and network-building exercise. I can see a wide swath of Facebook users simply dismissing Google’s platform with an exasperated “Not another social network!”
But This Is Google! — I’m already knee deep in the Big Google Muddy. I use Gmail, Reader and Analytics every day. I have a Google profile. So Google really is a backbone of my digital life. As soon as Mike invited me into Google+, I witnessed how slick it may become to have my main social network integrated with the rest of my Google tools. I’ve used a number of digital dashboard services, but I could see Google becoming the “One Dashboard To Rule Them All.”
Setup Observations — Easy as pie if you’re already a Google Account holder. Google+ scoured my Gmail inbox for friend suggestions and my Google profile page for my new Google+ info page. Setup will be more of a barrier for users who aren’t already big Google users.
Video Chat — The “Hangout” feature is irresistible. It took me a minute to figure out how to tell Google which microphone to use on my end (another hurdle for less techie users). Then Mike, Andrew and I jumped in and did the ridiculous thing of video chatting between the main room and the 2nd floor at Fast Horse (“Watson, come here! I want you!”). But this is powerful: easy video chatting within Google may be the feature that drives a lot of adoption.
Facebook — I’m an everyday user, personally and professionally, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. But, like a lot of users, I’m not passionate about Facebook. It’s always felt cold and somehow metallic to me. I’m there because everyone else is. But if the crowd migrates and Google+ gains critical mass, I could envision a time when my Facebook activity withers. In this sense, I think Facebook has a brand loyalty problem that Google might succeed in exploiting. I would not feel guilty in the least about ditching Facebook.
Privacy — I worry a bit about my public social activity getting too close to my private browsing and searching. I’m not sure yet how this will play out, but when I’m logged into Google, it may be disconcerting to see my social network navigation bar in action while I’m searching for something personal.
The Name — I quibble with name. Is it “Google+” or “Google Plus”? I’m no SEO expert, but it seems the “+” could create search and SEO problems. This WordPress blog won’t accept the symbol as part of the URL, so that’s an issue right there. And what do you call this product in a standalone reference? “Hey, have you tried +?”
Andrew Miller’s Two Cents:
I think skeptics will say, “Well, I’m already on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I don’t really have a need for yet another social network.” With Circles, I think Google+ has the opportunity to be all things to everyone. Think about it: Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for acquaintances and LinkedIn is for professionals. Google+ trumps Facebook lists and privacy settings by presenting Circles each time you adjust your profile or post new content.
I imagine Google+ to be like the urbanization of social networks. Facebook is still the most popular site on the Internet and will be for some time, but Google+ could swallow up the rest of the towns and hamlets (Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype) and become a formidable foe. And I say this as someone quite cynical of Google after the Wave disaster: Google+ totally aligns with my needs as an avid poster, uploader and blogger. Google+ seems to play by my rules, unlike Facebook or any other social network out there.
Alex Weaver’s Two Cents:
I was beside myself with excitement this morning when Mike shared a Google+ invite with me. I was initially on the fence about this new social network and how it measures to Facebook. Plus, conversations about up-and-coming platforms becoming the “new” Facebook are exhausting. How many social networks can one really be expected to actively engage with? But, after some research and downloading the app for my Droid, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
However, due to a lengthy coffee run this morning (25 ridiculous minutes at Dunn Bros.), I was late to work and late to accept my invite. Now, I’m told to try again soon because Google+ is over capacity.
Perhaps tomorrow will be my day. Until then, I’ll be refreshing my link every 10 minutes.