Almost inexplicably, Google have actually created something really cool in the social space and for the first time in about 7 years Facebook is not the most exciting social network in town. Google+ is.
Facebook’s announcement about being able to video chat to your grandad on Facebook seemed to leave the tech world feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Techies quickly went back to coo-ing over Google+’s as yet hardly discovered features – multi-person video (hangouts), circles and built-in photo editing, to mention just a few. There’s a lot to play with in Google+.
Though Facebook’s new chat will have a big uptake among Facebook users, and probably greater impact in terms of numbers of users than Google+, with its currently limited expert/techie user base. But that techie user base is an important one, because they talk so much.
Considering things, it could be Twitter that’ll see a punch from Google. With sharing and following being highly customisable, you can have Twitter-like functionality, allowing you to see the updates from people that are interesting to you, such as celebrities, politicians, photographers, and so on. Though Google+ may be just a tad too complicated to get the average celebrity on board… But it might just be a matter of time!
Research shows that we enjoy being in tighter networks, or tribes if you’d like, on average not more than 150 people in total (which is quite a lot less than the number of “friends” people have on Facebook, for example). So if Google+ lets us interact with select tribes with more ease and customise to whom we want to share what with, I think Google+ really could be a winner – with time, that is.
Google+ is still missing quite a bit of Facebook’s magic. Google+ currently offers no platform for third party developers to create awesome games like Farmville, widgets, utilities, and the nearly unlimited features that we have come to love and expect from Facebook. Google+ does not have Facebook’s digital currency, known as Facebook Credits. Google+ does not have advertising. Google+ does not offer corporations, interest groups, and other entities the ability to create dedicated landing pages. Most importantly, Google+ only has on the order of hundreds of thousands of users, vs Facebook’s hundreds of millions!
I’m guessing in the coming year we will see Facebook copy many of Google+’s innovations, while Google+ will likely roll out every single one of the missing components just mentioned. One year from now, we will likely have two social networks that are similar in many ways, and if Google+ proves compelling enough it might even close the user gap significantly.
Google’s secret weapon is everything that is not Google+. A formidable armada of Google products including Gmail, Picasa, Calendar, Docs, Maps, Search, News, Youtube, Chrome Web Browser, Blogger, Translation, Android, and more stands at the ready to assist and join Google+ in the battle for the future of social networking. These products are best in class, extremely difficult to replicate, and are used by more than a billion people across the planet. As these products are seamlessly integrated with Google+, we are likely about to witness an incredible two way explosion of value and utility. Google’s products will gain all of the powerful attributes that social networks deliver – virality, discovery, crowdsourcing, sharing, “liking”, and so much more. Meanwhile, Google+ could very well be given a steroid boost of products that deliver content, tools, and capabilities to its hungry hordes of social minions. In theory, at least…
Lastly, check out this nice post about 25 tips to enhance your Google+ experience. Did you know you can edit photos right there in Google+?!