Has Google gotten social media right this time? With Google+, it is clear Google plans to go head to head against Facebook in competing for today’s social consumer.
What is the Google+ Project?
The Google+ Project is Google’s first bona fide entry into the social media landscape. Google+ is a social media ecosystem which integrates with a user’s existing Google services, while also providing certain nuanced differences from its major competitor, Facebook. With Google+, it is clear Google plans to go head to head against Facebook in competing for today’s social consumer. Currently in beta form, Google+ is generating much buzz in both the digital and traditional landscape, and early indications are that Google+ will become a competent challenger to Facebook.
How Does Google+ Differ From Facebook?
At its core, Google+ will operate in a similar vein as Facebook, allowing members to share and interact with friends across the digital landscape. However, Google+ differs in that it will offer users new tools to make those interactions easier or more refined. These tools include:
- Circles: The Circles function allows users to create sub-groups of friends for the purposes of making it easier to control what information you share, and with whom.
- Sparks: The Sparks feature allows users to create feeds based on topics of interest. From these topics Google+ will deliver articles and videos to your Google+ interface, making it easier, more relevant and more fun to share information with your circle of friends.
- Hangouts: Hangouts allows users to create a virtual “room” where friends can hang out and interact through chat and/or video messaging. Hangouts takes Instant Messaging to the next level by adding video and also allows users to create private rooms for larger group interactions.
- Instant Upload: Instant Upload allows users to have their mobile photos and videos automatically posted to their Google+ Photos homepage.
Recently, Google announced plans (and sent a limited number of invitations) for Google+ Pages for Business – asking that brands “hold off” on creating brand pages. It is unclear how these pages will differ from “Fan Pages” on Facebook at this time. However, we do congratulate Google on its initial plans to allow unique business oriented pages, which, hopefully, can be controlled more readily by brands.
What Does This Mean For Marketers?
As Google+ is currently in beta, it is unclear what the impact will be for marketers. However it will be important for marketers to monitor the situation, and most importantly, the growth rate of user adoption and how Google rolls out the monetization of the platform through advertising support.
Long term, as the Google+ Project is opened up to the wider universe of users, we expect two significant events to impact marketers:
Since its beta launch, Google+ has had its share of privacy breaches. First, it came to light that shares within private Circles could in fact reach the greater web audience through re-sharing. Second, while not technically a breach of security, initial testing shows that there is a lack of clarity, and a lack of ease of implementation of how to set up settings which establish, and with whom, content is shared with.
While we fully expect Google to work through much of these bugs during the data, we recommend those involved with the Beta to tread carefully and fully read through your account set-up options prior to publishing information.
We believe that Google+ will be a strong competitor to Facebook. The enhanced tools, particularly Circles and Instant Upload are strong tools which will sway users to switch social platforms. Should users flock to Google+, marketing opportunity is sure to follow.