A brief update on Google's Facebook competitor
Well, Google's latest project to grab a greater share of our online social interactions has finally been unveiled. We may soon have to talk about five major social networks which are a priority for online marketing: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube AND Google+. This will likely be THE biggest development in 2011 for digital marketers to think of new marketing approaches for, although I suspect it won't go live until 2012. Will that be fast enough?
There have already been several in-depth, breathless, mostly sycophantic writeups from Google briefings to Mashable, Searchengineland and Techcrunch. Each of their headlines positions it squarely as a serious competitor to Facebook.
So I thought we'd focus on the essentials you need to know to answer questions from colleagues. Everyone will be forming their own impressions, these are mine so far Let me know if you think different, particularly if you're lucky enough to be on the trial (need to live in Silicon Valley?)
1. Google+ an experimental project not a new live service (remember Google Wave).
2. It's on a limited invite only trial so you can't look at it unless you're well connected to Google.
3. The best way to explore it to understand for yourself is this Google demo.
4. It's based on separate features united through a toolbar (looks to me like features take time to learn and discourage switching) - Facebook feels much better integrated to me). However I've listed the features below in order of what I think will encourage adoption adoption - the first three are certainly great differentiators from Facebook.
5. The Circles feature readily enables you to group contacts - a big limitation of Facebook and seemingly pushed by Google as the main differentiator - this will encourage me to give give "+" a try when it launches.
6. The Sparks feature gives you a summary feed of the latest developments influenced by your friends' interests. This is what excites me most about "+" as a search marketer - it seems this a social search a little similar to Linked In Today - it's the way the main search is heading with social recommendations and personalisation. It's not clear where this fits with the current main search engine.
7. Hangouts is group video chat. I can't get Skype to do this with my co-workers so will be keen to try this and this will encourage adoption.
8. The Huddle feature is group chat.
9. Instant upload enables upload of video and images from your mobile to a shared space. Like Apple's iCloud but without document sharing (GDocs). Not a game changer.
10. Monetisation by Google isn't emphasised in the announcements, so I assume it will be similar types of contextuals ads to email.
So that's the way it looks to me - an exciting development - how useful or important does it look to you? I'm sure everyone reading this will use it, but what about your average Facebook user?