After a few weeks of Google+ envy, I received an invite from a colleague last week.  The last thing I need is another social network to figure out but that’s the business we are in, right?  So I logged in and started setting up my circles.  Back to that in a minute.

We all know that the social media landscape is changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up.  And as marketing professionals we have no choice but to check them all out.  Think about how many networks/platforms you have created profiles for but never even used.  Friendfeed ring a bell?  And I still have no clue why I signed up for Plaxo.   Right now, I have a nice little thing going between Facebook and Twitter.  So the bar was set pretty high for Google+ to give me something that neither of these is.

Unfortunately, right now, they are not.  On the outset Google+ is a cleaner version of Facebook.  You can group your connections into tidy circles — friends, family, acquaintances, and those you are just following.  There are no busy sidebars or ads.  (Let’s take a bet on how long it takes for Adwords campaigns to show up.)  But since Google+ is not open to the public, not a lot of people I know are part of it.   As I was building my circles I felt like I was just duplicating my Facebook and Twitter connections.  We all know the reason for Google+ – Google wants to do everything they can to keep you within their platform when you’re online.  They want to create a one stop shop for email, chat, search and social networking.

Not everything that Google does turns to gold (i.e. Google Wave, Buzz).  But I am sure they will do their best to give Facebook a run for their money.   As a general consumer, I know I don’t have time for both.  As a marketing professional, I will give it more time.  Give me something different, make me feel even more efficient with my social media time and I will become a believer.

Lisa Huebner

VP/Media Director

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jims1973

    I honestly believe any social media network is what you make it. You mentioned Friendfeed and Plaxo as networks you never used, but how much effort did you honestly put into them. In the world of “Social” media it helps if you are social by nature and are willing to open up to the networks themselves. A quick search and view of your profile on G+ leads me to believe you haven’t given it a fair shake yet. Get in there and add more people, share content, +1 things, comment. Be part of the network.

    While I do agree that Google+ has a long way to go users wise to be as powerful as Facebook or Twitter what I like best about it right now is that G+ is listening to it’s user base and making changes to improve the experience. Something Facebook has had issue with since the beginning. I also like how much easier it is to create circles and to share within them. Something Facebook has with it’s groups but they haven’t invested much development in because they don’t believe people will use it.

    Just my opinion,

    Jim

  2. Lisa Huebner

    Thank you for your comment Jim. I am all for putting effort into understanding and using a new network. However, if I feel like I am just duplicating efforts that are being done on other sites I am going to lose interest. I admitted from a professional standpoint I will give it more time. But I am wondering if the general consumer will. We will see what 6 months brings! I could be completely wrong and I am cool with that!

  3. Jesse McFarlane

    While I’m also unclear on the long term potential (social networks being so fickle) I’ve been finding Google+ to be inherently efficient. Because of the way sharing via Circles works you can turn the Share field into a public broadcast (Twitter), a restricted network broadcast (Facebook), a private conversation (ala private messaging) or even an email (as you can share to those without accounts in this way). The combination of this flexibility is very interesting and useful. The additional flashy though less interesting additions of Huddle, integrated GChat and Sparks help flesh out the network.

    Google also has several plays with Google+ that may push it more towards ubiquity, the most obvious being gmail and Google accounts (including Youtube) and the new Google user bar, which showcases Google+. However, one play that is no less significant is Android. How long before we see an Android version which includes the Google+ mobile client installed by default, automatically integrating throughout the OS when you set up your Google account (one of which is required to use an Android phone)?

  4. Jake Rohde

    I have high hopes for G+ but have the same fears.

    I posted on G+ the other day:

    “Not to be pessimistic – but I am just waiting to Google+ to be a copy of the feeds from every other social space on the web… I.E. My contacts will post something to Twitter, which will post to Facebook, which will then both post to Google+

    I hope this doesn’t happen, as my experience so far here on Google+ has been refreshing and very conversational.”

    I hope it is actually the opposite. I hope G+ ends up being the main entry gate into all of my networks online. The potential for integration with social and private tasks is exciting. I can just imagine one spot: email, calendar, documents, social, etc… all playing together. I imagine scenarios where I can set up social aspects to my Google calendar with particular circles to share what I am doing, and I could see what other people are doing. Maybe even suggest meeting times through G+ based on schedule from Gcal? Things like that would be huge. I hope they bring back elements of technologies such as Wave, as well. In the short time Wave was around, I used it a lot, and it had some really strong business applications. Personally I don’t think it was around long enough for people to start to use it.

    Time will only tell if G+ will be just another social network, or really something new and special… I am hoping for the later.

  5. Mike Shank

    Here’s my 2 cents: I think it’s biggest problem is people are stuck in the Facebook and/or Twitter mentality. It’s not really like either of them. And if you try to duplicate them within G+, you may defeat the purpose and be disappointed or confused.

    If you have Gmail, you’ve already had a google account/profile, and you’ve already been able to share searches and articles, like items, comment on them, write a blog, post pics and video, wrangle feeds from various networks, and chat with friends alone or in groups, via text, video, telephone and sms. G+ adds nothing to Google’s existing services but a little style and organization with a few interface conventions made popular by Facebook and Twitter.

    Hangouts? Sure, I guess I miss AOL chatrooms. Sparks, meh, my Reader has it covered. I think the key element is Circles. This is not like Facebook Groups – it’s not a public association, it’s simply for organization. Kind of like Facebook “Lists”. They allowed you to organize your friends and apply varied privacy settings to each. The problem is the privacy settings and policy in FB change almost monthly. The process has become too confusing for anyone to deal with so we end up sacrificing privacy. Circles are much easier to manage, and as a brand, I just TRUST google more with my privacy.

    The initial 4 circles are pretty spot on for me: “Family” is family. “Friends” are those whom I can call if I have a flat tire or am in jail. “Acquaintances” are those who may buy me a drink, but may not know I have a brother. “Following” is for people with whom you share interesting posts, not my personal life. I guess I’m just defining them out loud because some of the buzz I’m hearing is really people just over-thinking circles and actually experiencing anxiety about which circles they belong to. I think, honestly, it doesn’t matter. If you want to be in someone’s Friend circle, call em up to hang out more.

    If we have to define it, I think G+ is not a new online social network – it’s a system to manage your online interaction with your real-life social networks.

  6. Jake Rohde

    Good call, Mike. It does seem like the start of a very good social organization tool. For me, it is just nice because it hasn’t interrupted anything, it just seems to sit nice with the other Google apps, and your right, kind of connects everything. Picassa becomes the photos of your profile, blogger becomes your stream, etc… I hope more and more gets rolled into it, or organized by it, and it truely becomes that one organized spot that is needed in a vast landscape of apps and social spaces. I have high hopes for it.

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