New Media Newsletter

Will Google+ Be the Next Big Thing?

by Patty Briguglio on 08/09/2011

I think Google+ will be the next big thing in social media. Unlike some of Google’s past efforts like Wave and Buzz, many critics expect this to be a more successful venture, and after testing it, I agree.

Although yet unproven as a business application, Google+ is expected to develop into something useful for the business world. As far as social media applications go, Google+ is fairly simple and intuitive to use. It’s like a convergence of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A mobile application is also available for Web-enabled smartphones. If a user already has a Google profile, Google+ can import that data into a profile specific to the social media application.

Here is a brief overview of Google+ functions and how they work.

Circles

The “Circles” function helps keep Google+ users connected to family, friends and coworkers through a simple drag-and-drop method. This is similar to having a “Friends” list on Facebook, and the names and pictures of people in various Circles show up on your profile. You will also be able to see who has added you to their Circles.

As for privacy, Google has said that it will not disclose the titles of people’s Circles. You place your connections into different groups and then share content as appropriate. For example, you can make two separate Circles for your co-workers and for your family members. Connections can be in several different Circles at once, and people that are added to separate Circles can only see content designated for those Circles. Profile information can also be restricted to certain Circles.

Connections can be both added and deleted from Circles, and users also have the option to delete Circles entirely.

The application features a Google+ stream, which is a compilation of all the messages that people write that are in your Circles, similar to Google Buzz.

Sparks

Google+ Sparks is basically a search engine suggestions application. Users can customize this feature by adding an interest, which Google will keep updated with appropriate content. Sparks provides you stories about the things that most interest you and allows you to share that content with others.

Photos

Google+ Photos is similar to the photo feature on Facebook, but with editing capabilities. Smartphone users can also use the mobile version of Google+ to instantly upload photos (again, similar to Facebook mobile).

Video (“Hangouts”)

Skype and Chatroulette users are already familiar with video chatting, which Google+ offers in the “Hangouts” feature. A Google+ user can start a video chat with just one friend or start a group chat by notifying others in their Circles. Users can also check their Google+ stream for chats to join. Hangouts makes you feel you’re hanging out at a place such as a café with your friends—and you never know who is going to drop by.

Texting

Users can text connections within their Circles with Google+ Huddle. This basically turns texting into a group chat.

The Future of Google+ for Business and Social Media

Granted, Google+ has its detractors, such as Socratic Gadfly and GrrlScientist (who has a legitimate complaint about Google’s extreme reaction over pseudonym use). It remains to be seen how much competition Google+ will be for other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.  My expectation is that applications more relevant to public relations will be added in the future as Google+ continues to grow and gain followers.

Are you on Google+? Feel free to share your opinions about it in the comments section below.

 

Photo credit: Bruce Clay, Inc.

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