Yesterday, Google officially launched its social network, Google +. Right now, the network is by invitation only, but it will soon be universally available. The question is, will Google + become Facebook’s newest and biggest rival? Is Google + going to be to Facebook what Facebook was to mySpace (that is, a force that eclipses the competition)? We don’t think so, but we are open to other opinions: we asked a similar question on our Facebook page – we would love your input, so shoot on over and tell us what you think.
What will Google + be?
Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google, describes on the official Google blog the new + social interaction project as “real-life sharing, rethought for the web,” referring to current online social interaction as something that is “awkward” and “broken” (jab at Facebook? I think so) that they intend to fix.
Google + features
+ Circles – A solution to Facebook’s decidedly “all friends are created equal” methodology, Google presents + Circles as a way to create a sort of friendship hierarchy. You can create circles of friends to share certain things with– for instance, you can create one circle for your acquaintances, one circle for your family, one for co-workers, and one for college friends. This kind of privacy feature does deviate from the Facebook model, in a way people will enjoy. But what happens when some of your co-workers are good friends while others aren’t? Can one person be a part of two of your circles? This remains to be seen.
+ Sparks – Google calls + Sparks “an online sharing engine.” Basically, this content sharing feature will bring you interesting articles, videos, and photos from the web via a feed that is based on your interests. This is certainly a cool way to combine your social networking habits with your YouTube obsessions and narrowly tailor to your profile to your personal specifications. We imagine it will be very hard for any of us to get any work done if we are constantly being fed funny videos and interesting articles, though!
+ Hangouts – This feature really targets one of Facebook’s shortcomings: the fact that few people have met their Facebook friends face to face. +Hangouts allows for multi-person video chats so that you can hang out with people in your +Circles face to face.
+Mobile – Google +provides several options for using your cell phone as a sharing accessory. With + Location, you can share your location with your friends (or you can choose not to). This is a good way for your friends to see where you are and decide whether they want to join you wherever you are. +Instant Upload Basically, this feature automatically uploads the photos you take on your phone to the cloud and stores them in a private album. From that album, you can choose whether or not to share the photos you have taken. +Huddle allows you to group message so that you can immediately share what you’re thinking with your +Circle (this seems like a status update that only goes out to the people you actually want to see it).
What we think
There’s no doubt that the features included in Google+ are interesting and pretty revolutionary. But how will they work? Only time will tell.
As EverSpark Interactive’s CEO, Jason Hennessey, noted in his Information Week interview for the article “Google Unveils Google + Social Networking Project,” it seems as if Google is simply trying to get a piece of the social networking pie with Google + by capturing a bit of Facebook’s activity.
After Google + has been around for a while, people will probably flock back to their previous networks. With people already juggling Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks, there’s really only so much online social interaction one person or business can handle. Companies (especially those that have trouble maximizing their options on Facebook) will likely value Google +, however, for its ability to facilitate collaboration.
What does this mean for search?
Google’s +1 button will likely be quickly integrated within Google + to maximize the efficiency of personalized search results. When this happens, the concept of relevant content could end up taking on a whole new meaning.
For more information on Google’s +1, see our earlier post, “How will Google’s +1 affect SEO?” for more information on the button.