On June 28th Google released their social networking platform named Google+. Whether viewed with skepticism, excitement, or curiosity, Google+ burst onto the stage with members joining en masse. In 16 days, Google reached an astounding 10 million users. Given that Facebook and Twitter are its most commonly mentioned competition, it is interesting to note that it took Facebook and Twitter 852 and 780 days respectively to reach that same number.
So what are people saying about Google+?
Mari Smith, social media expert speaker and trainer, states in her blog, Why You Need To Get Active On Google+ Now, “I’m convinced Google+ will become a *major* player in the social networking arena.”
Mari points out that Google+ complements all of Google’s other products. She underlines the fact that Google+ surpasses Facebook’s service in the sense that Google+ benefits from Google’s powerful search engine. They capitalize on their search engine with the feature Google calls “Sparks” which is your customizable list of featured interests. Simply list your interests and Google+, drawing from its store of search engine data, will keep you up-to-date. Some of the other features that she finds appealing are:
- faster response,
- easy-to-organize friends lists (what Google+ calls “circles”),
- writer-friendly posts due to simpler coding, easy edit features, and higher word count,
- ability to integrate Chrome extensions and widgits,
- real-time chatting through the “hangout” option, and
- genuine engagement among Google+ members.
Mari Smith ultimately predicts that “. . . with the sheer size of Google’s existing userbase of all its products, at some point I can see Google+ overtaking Facebook as the #1 social network in the world.”
Pete Cashmere, founder and CEO of Mashable, offers a fluid, interesting discussion of Google+ on his Google+ page. Here are some of his observations:
- Google+’s unique sharing features combined with deep integration of video chat and mobile make it the killer platform for video.
- Just learned about a really cool way to do Polls on Google+ . . .
- Google is working on deeper integration between G+ Hangouts and YouTube Live, meaning you can watch a livestream and chat about it with friends in a Hangout.
- Google announced this week that Google+ shares would start showing up in Google search results. Is this a game changer? Obviously this could give Google+ the edge over Facebook — websites would be incentivized to integrate +1 buttons more than Like buttons if they provided a boost in search results.
Pete opens up the question that can be extended to Google+ in general – Is Google+ a game changer? According to Mari Smith and Pete Cashmere the potential is definitely there. With rapidly growing personal membership profiles filling the site, Google+ appears to be for real.
Do Google+’s features appeal to the business world?
You bet they do. PCWorld’s blog, entitled Google Scrambles to Accelerate Google+ Business Profiles, discusses how Google+ is addressing the business world’s eagerness to get a profile on Google+.
Demand for Google+ business profiles has reached white-hot intensity, prompting Google+ leader Vic Gundotra to acknowledge the company has been caught off guard, but pledging a fix is being fast-tracked.
“We prioritized making a great experience for people first. None of our internal models showed this level of growth. We were caught flat-footed. This growth is very enticing for people/brands who crave an audience. We are doing all we can to accelerate the work to properly handle this case. Please give us just a little more time,” Gundotra added.
Google explains that Google+, as it exists, was not designed for businesses. For the moment, Google will retain a tiny handful of business profiles on Google+ for the sole purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers, thus allowing Google+ to create the right platform for businesses. For the moment, most businesses will just need to wait in line.
Whether already in line or thinking about getting in line, use this interim time as a moment to familiarize yourself with Google+. See what you like about it. Determine how Google+ can complement your online branding strategies and how, in particular, you can maximize Google+’s features to strengthen your social media optimization strategy.