The Latest in Social Media Networking: What's in Store for Google+?
What do you get when you combine just about everything cool that Google has to offer? The answer is Google+. The company recently went public with its previously top secret social media network; launching a limited public release of what are are calling Facebook’s newest competitor.
Google+ essentially ties in most Google products with a social network at its core. The Internet giant’s latest initiative brings new lingo like the Stream, Circles and Sparks to the world of social media. But what does it all mean?
The Stream is similar to Facebook’s News feed, in that it allows users to share multimedia like photos, videos, links or their location with friends. Circles is the most innovative aspect of Google+, which helps to separate it from Facebook. The Circles system allows users to target their sharing with various social groups. Thanks to HTML5, Circles enables the user to simply drag-and-drop friends into and out of various social circles; whether it be friends, schoolmates, co-workers, family or a customized group. Sparks is the content recommendation engine behind Google+. Using an algorithmic system that relies on information from other Google products like Search; Sparks is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content categorized by interest. Users can search for various topics of interest throughout these collections and then share their discoveries with friends.
Other features that we can look forward to with Google+ are its group chat feature (which is being called “Hangouts”), an Android mobile app that has an auto-upload capability for photos or videos, and a whole lot of +1 buttons throughout the web from here on out.
Although a great deal of speculation regarding the anticipated success of Google+ has been mostly positive, let’s not forget that this is Google’s second attempt at creating a super social network. So what kind of obstacles should Google+ be on the lookout for in order to prevent any minuses this time around? Let’s take a look.
1. Will the population really leave Facebook?
Yes, we live among a generation of the “bigger and the better”. But how many of the millions of people who are already established (that have been building their profile for years) are going to leave Facebook? I know I don’t want to risk losing the past five years of photo albums. Sure, some people became Tweeters, but how many people do you know that completely left Facebook for another type of social media network?
2. The Twitter-Facebook Alliance.
Speaking of Twitter and Facebook; is it me, or do you feel like these two have become like a married couple? It’s almost as though, you can’t have one without the other and they need to be linked at all times. That said, I’m not sure where Google+ will fit into this match made in social media matrimony?
3. If you look up privacy in the dictionary...
Google is probably the last thing I would associate with privacy. The issue of maintaining users private information has become a hot ticket surrounding social-networking sites like Facebook, who recently received public and legal scrutiny for misleading users about the safety of people’s information that was being stored. Google itself received particular criticism regarding privacy issues, after it launched Google Buzz.
4. When you want to know something - you Google it.
One of Google’s biggest challenges in becoming the worlds great social networking site could also come from within. Google’s done such a great job branding itself as the number one way to search for anything, that this is what people now associate the company with. For most people right now, Google means search, Facebook means to share with friends.
5. Where do Bing and Yahoo fall into all this?
Although Bing doesn’t quite compare to Google, it is known to be gaining market share - something for Google to think about as it continues to fall under various legal scrutiny from organizations like the FTC. Although its no longer king of all the search engine giants; Yahoo, still makes up a significant segment of search market share and maintains a stronghold in other sectors such as email, finance, news, etc. Part of the Google+ strategy is that it extends across various other Google products, some of which compete directly with those of Yahoo's strong points: another battle that Google should consider before it spreads itself too thin.
Regardless of whether Google’s attempt at creating the next social-networking phenomena is a plus or a minus, its sure to be interesting as usual watching it all pan out.