Google+ will revolutionize social media. Google+ is a Facebook-killer. How can anyone use Facebook after using Google+? Google+ will change how brands interact on social media.
Do any of those comments sound familiar? Google+ discussion dominates my Twitter and Facebook streams. I can't go a day without seeing a story about it popping up on TechCrunch, Engadget or Gizmodo. People are convinced Google+ is the proverbial social media promised land.
People, Google+ is not even a month old. It's still invite only. How can we make these grand statements about it? Do you not remember the Google Wave hype? Or Color? Did you use Google Wave or Color the day after their release?
We all need to take a deep breath and let Google+ organically find its niche in the social media world (I mean, Google+ is currently almost 90% male, it's not really an accurate picture of social media).
So let's cut the hype and actually talk about Google+ for the average Joe and Jane, whom will ultimately determine if Google+ receives widespread adoption.
Google+ is Google's answer to social networking. It incorporates Google's product lines under one umbrella.Your Google profile is now the hub of everything. Google Chat (or G-chat), the chat function of Gmail, is part of Google+. Hangouts, a new feature, allows you to video chat with several friends. You can post, comment and +1 on content. Does this sound like Facebook to you? Well, it's incredibly similar.
The biggest difference between Google+ and Facebook though, lies in who you share content with. When you add a contact to Google+, you put them in a 'circle.' These circles determine who gets to see your content. Circles are completely customizable (aside from the Public circle, which is what everyone can see), so you can categorize people how you like. When you decide to share content on Google+, you choose which circles can see it. This can be a little hard to grasp for people who haven't used Google+, so let's use an example:
John is one of my friends. Jack is a work colleague. Jane is a friend who also works in my industry. I would put John and Jane in my 'Friends' circle, while I would put Jack and Jane in my 'Professional' circle. Let's say I want to share some vacation pictures. Obviously, my professional contacts really don't need to see that content, so I would choose to share it just with friends. John and Jane would see my content, but Jack would not.
But let's say I was at an industry convention and took a picture of a really innovative booth (Company XYZ is using Fire Dancers at their booth!). I'd probably want to share that with both my 'Friends' and 'Professional' circles. John, Jack and Jane will see my picture. But Jane is in my 'Friends' and 'Professional' circles! Won't she get my content twice? Nope! If someone is in two circles you share content with, it only shows up once.Hey, can't you do the same thing with Facebook privacy settings?
Not really. Facebook is very limited with privacy settings compared to Google+. On Facebook, you can only edit set levels (Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends, Custom) and just determine what someone can or cannot view. On Google+, you just drag and drop people into circles. Controlling your content and making sure you 'talk' to the right audiences is very easy.
Will the average user abandon Facebook for Google+?
As much as I love the ease of content sharing on Google+, I really can't think of a MySpace-level exodus from Facebook anytime soon. Facebook has had some controversial privacy issues, but it hasn't alienated users to their breaking points yet.
Already, early adopters are having some gripes with Google+, such as issues of online identity, privacy questions and lack of a way to import contacts from existing social networks (Facebook, for example). Are these insurmountable hurdles? No. But they raise some significant questions about the network.
Plus, it's just a huge pain to migrate content over from Facebook to Google+.
Businesses will soon get their own way of using Google+ (testing will begin soon for selected businesses), so I will try not to speculate on what means for them. However, if circles act the same way for people as they do for businesses, segmenting your audience into circles and being able to have different messages for each will be fantastic.
I understand the excitement behind Google+, it has many possibilities. But we should not pull the cart before the horse. We have to let Google+: 1) Open up to the public, and 2) Organically flesh itself out. Otherwise Google+ is going to crash harder if it doesn't meet lofty expectations.
What do you think of Google+? Do you think we should be hyping it up?