Insights into Google’s New Google+ Social Network

Evolution is about winners and losers and survival of the fittest. The origin of any species, digital or flesh and blood depends on the ability to adapt to rapidly changing environments.Is Google Fighting for Survival in a Social Web

If you want to see it happening in real time you only have to survey the digital world to view it happening before your eyes.  MySpace dominated the social networking universe by providing a social and multimedia experience so addictive that teenagers didn’t leave their rooms for years.

Along came Facebook and made a better mouse trap that not only hooked teenagers and Generation Y but their parents as well and now MySpace is fighting for its very existence.

Rupert Murdoch must be wondering why he got sold on spending over half a billion dollars investing in what is now a digital dinosaur. (By the way it was recently sold for $35 million)

Why Google is Worried

Google has dominated the web for nearly a decade and with earnings of over $29 billion a year and enough cash to buy Greece you would think it was impregnable. But there are some worying signs

  • Google’s share price has dropped 20% over the past year
  • People spend more time on Facebook than Google with users spending 375 minutes a month per month on Facebook compared to 231 minutes on Google  (that happened in 2010)
  • Google’s forays into social networking with Google Wave (now extinct) and Google Buzz failing to gain any serious traction, have forced changes at the top level with Larry Page taking over as CEO and  creating bonus incentives for staff based upon the success of  Google’s new social networking ventures.

Google Announces its Social Network

So after struggling with adapting to the rise of social networks Google has just announced its ‘Google+’ service that targets Facebook and the way that Facebook operates including security and privacy issues.

Here is where Google’s Facebook rival starts.. on its home page!

You won’t see it yet as it is being tested on a limited number of users in what Google calls a ‘field trial’.

Google Launches a competitor to Facebook

So What are the 5  Major Components of Google+?

According to the Search Engine Journal blog that has had access to Google+ “the interface is smooth simple and attractive“.

That is a good start as the other Google social experiments have not been simple but seemed to have been designed by men wearing white lab coats.

Apparently the Google+ project has been designed by Andy Hertzfeld (a former Apple Macintosh wizard). So let’s hope an intuitive design  provides Google+ with the momentum that gives it a running start to chase down Facebook.

Facebook’s interface is not pretty or very intuitive, but it works (700 million people can’t be wrong can they?).

So maybe a compelling and intuitive design might be a key element that contributes to Google+ becoming a success. It certainly worked for Apple!

1. Google+ Circles

Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself – just like real life.

This feature may overcome the Facebook “Faux Pas” that plagued users when sharing those photos from Saturday night that you don’t want your parents to see (or your boss!). Facebook struggles with this functionality with its lists feature as it was not built in from day one.

Google+ Circles

2. Google+ Hangouts

With ‘Hangouts’, the unplanned meet-up comes to the social web for the first time. You can let specific buddies (or entire circles) know you’re hanging out and then see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until teleportation arrives, it’s the next best thing.

Hangouts lets users create an open video sharing session that is visible to friends. Google with its hugely successful Android mobile platform that is rivalling Apple’s iPhone for success, could evolve this seamlessly over time as a distinguishing point of difference as Facebook does not have mobile as part of its ecosystem.

The rise of widespread and affordable mobile broadband has been a vital factor in the growth of social networks and if Google gets the mobile features and functions right then it will be important in making sure that Google+ gets traction in the market place.  In fact of the 5 major components of Google+, mobile is a core component to three of them.

  1. Video (Hangouts)
  2. Images(Instant upload)
  3. Group collaborative messaging (Huddle)

Google Hangouts

3. Google+ Instant Upload

This feature again adds mobile synergy to the potential of the Google+ service. The Google+ instant upload allows you  upload your photos and videos automatically, to a private album in the cloud on Google+. The media is private to start, but you can access the album and share any of the content with a single click. The continuing popularity of the Android platform will be essential in ensuring that Google+ has the best chances of succeeding.

Google instant upload

4. Google+ Sparks

According to the Official Google Blog entry which announced Google+, Sparks is “an online sharing engine.” You can search for your interests and find popular web content, ranging from videos to blog entries to news stories to images and well beyond. You can then save any of the items you like for easy reference, share the content, or discuss the most popular items in a Top Interests segment of Google+.

5. Google+ Huddle

Google+ adds  to the ease of sharing with your social network with another mobile feature. The ‘Huddle’ feature turns all those different conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone gets on the same page all at once.

Will Google+ Be a Success?

The challenge is that Facebook has become the default social online network for the planet.

  • Who wants to maintain another network?
  • Will Facebook’s ever changing interface and privacy concerns be enough to make hundreds of millions of people change?

This is very important for Google and maybe its long term existence and continuing relevance hinges on it becoming part of people’s social networks and not just a search engine.

Would you change to Google+?

Comments

  • Cameron R Cunnnigham

    Can’t wait to jump ship.  I think the flag ship innovations are enough to take down the giant (or at least a swift kick to the nuts). I see this destroying not only facebook shares but Meetup.com as well as a few other low key social media sites. G+, can’t wait to play with it.

  • http://twitter.com/mattfrasersg Matt Fraser

    Yes, I do not have a social media site outside of LinkedIn and Twitter – green here too. I showed my wife the youtube 11 videos on google + and she said no question she would join google if she was doing it all over again. But, “good luck getting my friends and or everyone entrenched in facebook to change”. I am thinking of starting an account with…maybe i’ll sit on the sidelines for a little longer.

    • Anonymous

      I’m one of the lucky who has a beta access to google+ and I fell in love right away. I love the security concept with circles and the slim design. I hope more people will join i could totally dismiss facebook. You can also export your data!!!

      • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

        Thanks for the comment and feedback on Google’s new social network. That export data feature sounds great!

        • http://twitter.com/rapsli Rapsli

          send me your gmail account, I’ll gladly send you an invitation.

      • Karbelaez

        I thought Fb was blocking that export tool?

        • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

          Apparently they did block it.

  • Laura Michaud

    I totally would change to Google+. Facebook is getting so old and boring. Plus I sign in with Google to write my blog http://laurasstyle.blogspot.com/. This means I wouldn’t have to sign in to two places when I want to network :) It might be challenging for some people to switch since a lot of people don’t like to change. I on the other hand, embrace change. I would like to think that there are more people like myself out there 😉

  • Bayu Amus

    It depends on whether Google will be able to provide something MUCH better to the Facebook users. As for myself, based on the customer experience I have so far with Google products, I wouldn’t hesitated to open an account in Google+.

    And speak about the impossible, didn’t we think that Friendster will prevails?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks for your comment Bayu.
      I am running a poll on Facebook to see people’s willingness to try Google+ and I am actually being surprised by current Facebook users willingness to try the new social network when it becomes available out of field trials.
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/jeffbullascom/103782605406

  • Bayu Amus

    It depends on whether Google will be able to provide something MUCH better to the Facebook users. As for myself, based on the customer experience I have so far with Google products, I wouldn’t hesitated to open an account in Google+.

    And speak about the impossible, didn’t we think that Friendster will prevails?

  • Anonymous

    I was fortunate enough to get into the “field test,” and I have to say I’ve been impressed by Google+. 

    Organizationally, I’ve heard that this is priority 1-20 at Google; involves the entire organization in a way that Wave and Buzz did not.  Commitment and focus from top to bottom can make a huge difference.

    Strategically, it’s smart to knit all their properties/products together in an integrated way.  Executionally, the fact that it’s near feature parity to FB in ver. 1 is impressive, and frankly some of their features leave FB in the dust (Circles is MUCH more intuitive and user friendly than anything FB has for organizing friends). 

    Interface is slick and clean in a way that FB used to be (but now feels bloated).  And, I’ve heard that they are going to try to keep it from becoming an “app land grab” in the manner of FB (and thereby keep clutter under control).

    Of course, this is VERY early.  But, not everyone loves Facebook.  As always, choice is good for the consumer.  I’m happy to see an alternative…it’s good for the market.  It will be fun to watch how this plays out.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Ted for your comment and insight on Google+. It is early days and I will certainly be trialling once I have access which I have requested.
      It would be great to have you drop back in a week or so when you have had more time to test it.

  • http://twitter.com/leedela Lee de la Houssaye

    Opinions on this range from ‘revolutionary’ to ‘yawn.’ Here’s rundown of how the big bloggers and publications are weighing in: http://leedela.com/2011/06/28/google-1-technopundits-weigh-in/ 

  • http://twitter.com/leedela Lee de la Houssaye

    Opinions on this range from ‘revolutionary’ to ‘yawn.’ Here’s rundown of how the big bloggers and publications are weighing in: http://leedela.com/2011/06/28/google-1-technopundits-weigh-in/ 

  • Tal

    certainly will try it!

  • Anonymous

    good info! I see some good features in the reviews of +, however, not sure if they are enough to draw the masses out of facebook. I see very little use of game mechanics or any type of affiliate program or virtual economy, all things Goog should consider for the extra loyalty needed to pull this off successfully. :)

  • Anonymous

    I will change to Google+ and convince my friends to do it as well. I almost do everything with Google. Things like Analytics, Adwords, webmastertools, chat, etc. Besides that, I think it’s still better to have the option to choose who to see what. The line between work and private is becoming thinner and thinner.  

  • Doug Dillard

    I might not permanently change bbut I will give it a try.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Deb.Krier Deb Krier

    I’m going to wait a while before I try it, but it sound interesting. Not sure of the benefits over Facebook with “circles” as I use lists in Facebook to show or hide certain posts from people. I’m just hoping that Google will create a social media site just for business.

    • http://www.facebook.com/donkeypunching David Robertson

      I think you miss the point of circles, circles makes sure people can’t see YOUR updates if you don’t think it is appropriate for them as opposed to hiding posts from people you don’t want to see.

      Also the idea of a social media website just for corporate interest would gain little following from the public, neutering the ‘social’ aspect of the term.

      • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

        Thanks for the comment David. I have heard in the last 24 hours that Google has planned adding Google+ for brands.

      • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

        Thanks for the comment David. I have heard in the last 24 hours that Google has planned adding Google+ for brands.

    • http://www.facebook.com/donkeypunching David Robertson

      I think you miss the point of circles, circles makes sure people can’t see YOUR updates if you don’t think it is appropriate for them as opposed to hiding posts from people you don’t want to see.

      Also the idea of a social media website just for corporate interest would gain little following from the public, neutering the ‘social’ aspect of the term.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, i forgot: I posted some screenshots on my blog http://rapsli.ch

  • http://goo.gl/QvKcQ SusieBlackmon

    I’m all for Google and would definitely change to Google+ … !!!

  • Life Observer

    The social network community is so, so be wanting a new, improved facebook – especially if it’s NOT the fbker!! So, can hardly wait to make the change as long as it’s at least a bit better than this old platform we have now. The only question is has Google made it just in time, or is it too little too late? Lettuce pray that Google can make Fbk the next my space!

  • http://www.pistachiomedia.org Pistachio Media

    @jeffbullas:disqus Larry Page posted on Google+ last week where Google stands:

    “As you will have seen from our press release we had a great
    quarter–with revenue up by 32 per cent year on year and a new record
    for quarterly revenue at over $9 billion!”

    “This quarter, we released +1 buttons to the entire web, and many sites
    like Huffington Post, the Washington Post and Best Buy have added +1
    buttons”

    “We actually have a new metric to report of 550,000 Android Devices activated a day!”

    I could keep going, but the point is that Google is having a very good year, and if you read the post from Robert Scoble visiting Google, they are not exactly living in fear.

    As for switching, I believe the first casualty will be Twitter. Google+ does not have the character limitation and from my experience, the collaboration and engagement on G+ surpasses anything that Twitter could have imagined.

    The title “Why Google is Worried” and referencing their past forays into social media does not carry as much weight as it would a month ago.  Looking at my streams from Twitter and Facebook, the adoption rate will be fast and furious.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBobBarron Bob Barron

    Climbing the learning curve of Google+ and so far I am impressed.

  • Anonymous

    The only thing Google+ has going for it are features that facebook is starting to use them selves. Judging from the fact that my parents and grandparents are on facebook now (and that took a lot), I doubt those generations would want to learn a new service, and that demographic is a solid chunk of facebooks users.  You know, with the whole grandchild picture stalking that happens. :)

    A switch requires someones time to maintain both tools for a transition period, and that would just be painful.In addition, the figure that google keeps coming up with signed up users are inflated. Of course everyone signed up for google+, but how many people are “actively” using it? Thats a number google won’t put out, but facebook puts out all the time.  That comparison alone is very telling.

  • Ginesdemafra

    I am in deep at Facebook that it’s hard for me to spend substantial time to Google+. Now I have encountered an annoying feature of Google+. I was using Picasa before Google+. When Google+ fused Picasa with it I am having problems going to Picasa since Google+ is forcing me to go through it first and not directly to Picasa. This is terribly annoying and troublesome. I am at the point of giving up on both Picasa and Google+.