Ok. A disclaimer first, i am an avid networker, but not a social media expert. So i am not passing a verdict here but just penning my thoughts, which my friends say is valid. Tell me your views.
Thanks to a friend (whom i haven’t met in person but frequently bumps into on the net), i got into Google+ a week back (click here for my G+ account). I was a bit sceptical after my previous experience with wave and buzz, which i felt was very irrelevant as a social media platform. So i make my profile, add some photograph’s to vouch its authenticity and say hi to some unknown people to start networking.
While making my profile, i realised two things:
Google+ has learned from twitter and Facebook more than its mistakes.
Google+ is a plus point for the brand Google, by adding a social network to complete the giants presence on the great world wide web. Google is now Omni-present, is that a threat?
Now to the advantages of Google+ versus its disadvantages (in lay-man language):
My views (i support Google+ as a social friendly networking site)
Though Facebook has the grouping feature and twitter has the list feature, using them is a headache. Here, the layout is so user friendly and pretty interesting that you can do a grouping exercise is few minutes, effortlessly. This groups or circles, helps in messaging your selected friends by using the ‘limited’ view option. Just add the groups whom you want to notify and you are done. No painstaking selection of friends from a huge list and then going through a message function which resembles an email account.
Another interesting part is the lay-out.
The photo’s page is very interesting with the layout and animations (if i may call that feature of highlighting pictures when the mouse rolls over as animation). So is the circle page and the profile page. Less clutter and in a single pane.
The best of the lot is how Google+ enables you too follow a friend (seems like they got inspired by twitter). Someone said that no celebrity is allowed a private profile. All can be followed and you can view their public posts. It also allows you to hide the ‘follow back’ statistics, thus not offending your fans, as they really do not know whether you are following them or not (something which twitter can learn from Google).
Also, the customised view of updates from each circle, helps an user to see selected updates from the relevant people. A great help compared to your chaotic timeline of Facebook where you tend to miss important updates of your close friends.
The ‘hangout’ function is uber-cool. I think this sentence is enough as an explanation.
Summarising, i think the beauty of this set-up is its simplicity in organising everything in a simple layout and extremely supportive in terms of a networking perspective. Its easier to learn, compared to twitter and Facebook, where almost everyone staggered for first few weeks.
Some doubts on Google+’s success:
Making something exclusive and beyond reach to masses at first, is a tested and successful way of brand building. But it really doesn’t work for a social networking site, because unlike an email site, here, the success depends on the number of users. It is directly proportional.
Any social networking site has some percentage of dormant users. In Google+, many of my ‘circle friends’ are not returning to the site as they don’t see any activity there. People are more comfortable when you have somebody you know, in a new space and build more friends through them; than start networking with fresh faces. This site can loose its sheen if it doesn’t open up to the masses fast. If they do that a little late, by the time people enter into the ‘circles’ they see inactivity and conclude on a negative perception.
I can’t see how brands can use this platform. One important learning from Facebook ‘fan page’ styled interaction of brands is:
Brands are taking on social networking as a prominent way to interact with customers. Here in social media platforms, it is efficient, fast, visible to all and your efficiency in addressing issues creates a positive impression on all… till eternity or till your page exists. But something Facebook failed to provide for a brand, is the option to reach out to some selected customers (other than through paid advertisements).
So a brand is forced to post a message on its wall and then pray that everyone sees it. They key for attracting these revenue earners (for any social networking site) is the advantage they see in their presence on this medium – consumer interaction.
An application page is missing, though its too early, but things like polls (which is the hottest feature for FB fans and companies to understand market trends in India) are a must.
The features discussed are not innovations but they are improvisations of what people are using in other platforms. Can we have some innovative ides?
Great prospects as a networking site, but start letting the masses in and build some applications for Christ sake; like birthday alarms, event organising options (calendar) and please do some brilliant innovations than just changing cosmetics.
Some interesting articles: