The social media tool on everyone’s lips these days is Google+ (Google Plus). Basically, it’s an expanded, more relevant Twitter, or, as I also heard it described, “Facebook’s older brother.” Whatever you want to call it, you can’t deny that it’s definitely gotten a lot of people’s attention: Google+ already has 10 million users, according to the Chicago Tribune article “Google Plus adding value to life or guilt?” And this doesn’t even include the number of people who want to join, but have to wait for invites from their already-invited friends.
One of the great things about Google+ is that it gives you the ability to allow you to put your friends in different “circles,” categorizing the people you know in neat, easy compartments. Google+ initially give you generic categories, such as “friends” and “families,” but also let you create and build up circles personally catered to your needs. What’s nice is that you can decide whether you want to see everyone’s updates, or just updates from a specific circle, and vice versa when it comes to posting your own updates. This concept of the “circle” is brilliant, and is more in-your-face as Facebook’s “groups” and friend categorization. It’s the first thing you see when you add a new person, making Google+ more persona-based, and putting the focus on people and actual social interaction, as opposed to just the user themselves.
One other cool thing about Google+ (that I have yet to try) is the concept of a “hangout.” Users can get together with members in their friend groups and video conference with as many people as they want. This is a feature that Skype users have been lusting after, and, if used correctly, may add to Google+’s growing reputation. Google+ also gives you the option to instantly upload photos from your phone to a private album (and you can customize who you want to share them with later). Huddle, another unique feature, is a way to group-chat via text from your phone.
I feel like the only thing Google+ needs now is to take action and open up its doors to everyone, and allow businesses to create their own pages. They’re in the trial period right now, so the seeming exclusivity is understandable, but as soon as Google can, they should start to grab as many people and companies right away. Since Google+ is the talk of the town, it would be wise for them to move and engage everyone in profiling and huddling and +1ing (a feature similar to the “like” button on Facebook that allows you to show what you like all over Google), now, while they’re still intrigued and (for some) fed up with Facebook. The good news is that Google seems to recognize that. According to Patch article “Tech Trends: Google Plus Forges Ahead, ” Google+ is making businesses one of their top priorities, and “site developers are tweaking the platform for the business community.”
With all the popularity it’s gaining, it’s easy to forget that Google+ is actually a Google beta app, which means it’s still in the developing stages and that there will most likely be some glitches from time to time. However, that’s no reason to diminish its value. Here at JB Chicago, we are excited to see where this new social platform will fit into businesses’ marketing strategies and personal users’ lives. The geniuses at the Google Lab should be proud.