Google Announces its new social network after years of development and months of rumor. For many Google watchers, The Google+ Project is finally a reality. I recently wrote about Google’s- +1 button a few months ago- a button similar to Facebook’s Like button where one can recommend a piece of content or web page to others in their group. During the time that this button was released, it was quite evident that Google had something big in the works. While all the pieces of the puzzle weren’t viewable, with its June 28th announcement by Google, its social networking project called the Google+ Project is finally taking shape.
Google’s New, Improved and Very Competitive Social Network
It’s clear from the start, The Google+ Project is directly in competition with Facebook and after learning about their major features, I would say they definitely have an opportunity of grabbing a significant amount of market share from Facebook. So, what is Google+ and how is it different from Facebook, the current reigning leader?
The Main Features
Just like Facebook and many other social networking sites, Google+ makes it easy and convenient to create your own page post to it, share links to your favorite websites & content and also share and upload photos and other media.
What Differentiates Google+ From Facebook
However, Google- is significantly different from Facebook in a key way- it allows you to create separate groups of users and communicate to these groups independently of others. Much different than Facebook, where one post is always broadcasted to your entire group- whether you want to or not. To me and a lot of other people, this makes sense. We all have many circles of people that we know. We generally categorize them such as family, close friends, work associates, school friends, church group, professional organizations, etc. With Facebook, currently, you can be selective in who is allowed see your page and updates, but when you do post to your wall, ultimately, it is sent out to one large group with no control of privacy. For many, this feature is reason alone to try out Google+.
Most users when they first start using Facebook and start broadcasting their life to those in their one circle don’t fully understand the ramifications. We constantly hear about stories of users uploading unflattering pictures (being drunk or worse) online only to have their boss, teacher or other family members view it- usually with disastrous results. This way a picture or post only goes to a very select group of people that you truly trust or want to share the information with. In a way, Google+ is more intuitive to how most people socialize in the real world. We not only have many spheres of social contacts, but within these spheres or circles, we share only selective information.
Other Interesting and Powerful Features
Google+ allows data exporting. This means that using certain software such as Google Takeout (www.google.com/takeout) one can export their contacts and photos from several services on the web. While Facebook allows one to export data to their own computer- it is only in html code. However, there are a few organizations working on making it extremely easy to export data such as contacts from Facebook to Google+. If this comes to fruition, it can spell doom for Facebook, as many users might leave in large numbers- knowing they now have their contacts intact and can easily migrate them.
Google has also added video and chat functionality to this social network. You can now not only contact individual users using video or chat, but also reach out to your entire circle. “Hangout” is a concept that allows users who have free time to communicate by video with others. Instead of bothering everyone that is associated with you, you can find people within certain circles that are free to chat (by video), sort of like a virtual meeting at a pub. Huddle is another feature at Google+ that makes it easy to send instant messages to an entire circle all at once- sort of like a football huddle.
In addition, if you hate jumping through hoops to get the photos you take on your phone to your social networking page, Google has instant upload. With your permission, you can instantly upload photos you take from your phone directly to your privat
Obviously for many individuals, privacy has been a real problem at Facebook. Not only do privacy issues continue to irritate many users, but the current way Facebook is set up- where you broadcast to everyone leaves many cautious and hesitant to use the service. Google’s Plus Project may seem like a better alternative in this respect. However it is too early to tell how much privacy Google offers- and how much monitoring by Google+ will ultimately conduct. In addition, the fact that you don’t own the content that you upload or broadcast continues to make many apprehensive of using Facebook, Google+ or any of these networks as well.
For SEO and SEM Professionals
Currently Google+ is by invitation only so it will be at least a few months until most get their hands on it. Google does look like it has a worthy competitor to Facebook. What many are waiting in the industry to see is how fast not only do users migrate, but if these first adapters can bring over their friends and contacts as well.
Obviously, Google+ can and will have influence on Google’s data and this data possibly will be or already is incorporated within their algorithm for ranking. As we all know, social networks while enjoyable and convenient for users are ultimately a business created for data mining. In fact, you can say that social networks are the best data mining invention that has ever been created in the history of the world. So I think that if Google+ does gain momentum and millions of people start using it, the data that it mines will not only have an influence on rankings, but on PPC and other ways businesses advertise on the web.
For those in social media, this product is without saying, one to keep your eyes on. We should know within about a year whether Google+ is a real contender or belongs with the two failed social networks created before- Orkut and Buzz.
Read more about The Google+ Project at the following link: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-google-project-real-life.html