There she is, swaying to the beat of the music. There is a sultry, slow-motion buoyancy to her wavy hair. Her blue eyes sparkle like unnamed stars under the dimmed lights. She is breathtaking to behold. Impossible to forget. However, she has turned her back on you before. Ignored you, even made fun of you. But you don’t care. You approach her anyway, fueled by confidence and desire. Once more you ask her for that elusive dance…
Just like that guy in high school who seemed to thrive on rejection, you got to hand it to Google for persistence and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Google has attempted to crash the social media party before with Orkut, Buzz, Wave and Friend Connect, only to leave, head held low, after the crowd laughed and threw spitballs at it. Now, with Google+, the internet juggernaut might have finally found a way into the dance. But is it too late to the party, or will it finally impress the cool kids and be crowned prom king?
You can’t really blame Google for wanting to break into the online relationship building scene. It’s a very, very lucrative market… if you can crack it. And with all the resources Google has at its fingertips, they could eventually become the class president, head cheerleader and school bully all rolled into one.
With Google+, they’ve made their biggest strides so far at developing something that may stick with social media users. It’s doubtful that Facebook and Twitter are shaking in their boots just yet, but you can be sure they’re keeping a watchful eye on the ever-expanding Google universe.
And while Google+ isn’t officially launched, it’s not an exclusive club either. There are already 18 million members and growing. If you want to join, just ask a present Google+ user to send you an invitation.
There are obviously similarities to the other social media networks, like Facebook. Google+ does seem to improve upon several features. Google received a huge burst of subscribers when it debuted, but since then growth has slowed slightly. It’s safe to say that many of the initial members are the techies and geeks that want to be the first to try anything. The real test will be if ‘Joe and Mary Sixpack’ decide to leave the comfy confines of their present social media playground to play in Google’s sandlot.
So what exactly is Google+? In a nutshell, it’s all about sharing. Google+ tries to make it easy to share anything and everything about your life with only those you want to. You can assign your contacts to different groups, called circles. When you share updates on Google+, you can easily share that info to only the circles you want. You can also determine which circles can see status updates in your stream (similar to Facebook’s newsfeed).
Circles expand on the limited capabilities of Facebook’s groups. If your boss and co-worker are your Facebook friends, each will see your status updates. However, you can separate them into different circles on Google+ and your boss won’t know about your day at the ballpark when you were supposed to be on that sales call. This will be a distinct advantage for many people who don’t want all of their actions known by all of their friends, all of the time. How this will affect your status feed ranking, like Facebook’s EdgeRank, is still too early to tell.
By now, everyone’s familiar with the Facebook ‘like’ button. You will also see a ‘+1’ button gaining ground, which is Google+’s version of the ‘like’ and ‘Digg’. An interesting point to keep in mind is that Google may give higher search engine rankings to your content that is +1’d by others, so we recommend that you go ahead and set this feature up now to your web pages, in addition to your other social sharing options.
Google+ also has an instant upload that allows you to automatically upload your photos and videos from your smartphone. The interface seems easier to use than Facebook’s as well. Plus, if you already have your Google account tied into Picasa (Google’s photo sharing site) then your photos from that account will be viewable in your Google+ account. And, like your status updates, you can choose which photo albums can be seen by which circles.
Another feature of Google+ is their hangouts. Hangouts allow you to meet up with your Google+ associates and create spontaneous chat rooms. If you have a microphone and webcam, you can also chat by voice and video. This is a feature that could be of interest to your business if you need to teleconference.
Business profiles on Google+ aren’t available just yet (although some large corporations like Ford and Mashable have already tried and been deleted by Google). However, there is reason to believe that Google will be allowing business profiles on Google+ very soon. Once that happens, it will be interesting to see how many companies jump on board. Google is promising some enhanced features for their business profiles. If that’s the case, Google+ may become a desired alternative to businesses who are becoming dissatisfied with the constantly changing rules on Facebook.
Our advice would be to take a chance and get on the Google+ as soon as they launch their business profiles. The time to get on the train is while it’s still in the station and you can find a seat. It will be another way to promote your business… and it appears that Google+ is serious about rolling out the red carpet for companies, including small businesses and start-ups.
So while Google+ might be similar to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, there’s also cautious optimism that it might be an improvement. Time will only tell if the average social media user, and business, will make Google+ a force to be reckoned with.
Are you using Google+ yet? If not, are you planning to? Do you find it more versatile than Facebook or Twitter? Do you think Google+ ever has a chance to overtake the other social media networks? Tell us what you think. We want to hear from you!