It can’t be denied that social media is playing an increasing role in the ways we interact with each other both socially and environmentally. With the massive success that Facebook has enjoyed since its inception, it seems only logical that a competitor would eventually rise up to challenge Zuckerberg’s monster company.
By now you’ve heard about Google Plus, how this new social networking tool combines the best elements from each of its competitors in innovative ways, not to mention how over 20 million users jumped on the bandwagon in its first month alone. But there are still a few interesting questions to be answered. What is driving people to this new social network? Does Google Plus pose a significant threat to Facebook? And most importantly, does it live up to the incredible hype?
Evolution inevitably spurs advancement and that same principle applies in the arena of social media. Google Plus has pioneered a few features that promote more efficient organization of the young professional social life, while maintaining a higher degree of security than Facebook. Most notable is the Circles feature that allows users of Google Plus to organize their friends and acquaintances into different groups based on a topic. (College buddies, family, etc.) Simply drag and drop your contacts into the desired group and enjoy how much easier and private sharing what you want with them becomes. With the Huddles feature you can take an entire group of contacts and chat with them all at once when you need to plan that big dinner or get that work project done. Elements of Skype even get representation in the workings of Google Plus through its Hangouts feature – virtual rooms where you can video chat with the people in your circles.
Now what would a social network be without brand-building potential? Like Twitter, Google Plus allows you to acquire friends by matching people who you follow while they follow you in return. But unlike Facebook, which promotes consistent interaction with everyone on your friends list, Google’s model means there is less demand to follow all those who follow you. This presents a rich opportunity to focus more on content sharing or using the service to get your company’s name out to as many people as possible once the business functionality aspect goes live in a few months. Look out Twitter, because Google Plus is your new biggest competitor.
Usability is definitely the name of the game with Google’s social network; everything you can do with it on your computer you can essentially do with it on your smartphone. With Instant Upload, for example, any photo you snap with your Android phone is automatically uploaded to Google Plus and ready to be shared. The iOS Google + app (recently approved by Apple) ensures multi-platform compatibility and can certainly stand toe-to-toe with even the most well designed iPhone apps. The Sparks feature is also a cool one, requiring users to input a few of their interests and rewarding them with links to articles and videos with more detail. While not as useful as some of Google Plus’s other features, for fans and addicts of StumbleUpon, Sparks is a treasure trove.
As with any technological-based initiative, there are always quirks that warrant a little bit of fine-tuning: Google Plus is no different. Time will surely yield a less congested news feed and a more efficient method for finding contacts, but the fun design and usability it possesses now are quite impressive and have also manifested as improvements to Google Chrome and Gmail. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or all three, they represent a valuable tool in the young professional’s arsenal.
Watch for social media to continue its notable rise to prominence in the business world as the globe continues to become more and more connected. With all it can do, does Google Plus live up to the hype? Or is it simply another flavour of the month? Wait until capacity issues are solved and use your invite to get a login, then judge for yourself.