Google+, You, Equals the Death of Other Social Networks?
As a student of public relations and marketing, and avid social media enthusiast, I consider myself to be highly invested in all things networking. As soon as Google+ came out I secured my invite, and jumped on the bandwagon to see what all the buzz was about. Even Tom Anderson, founder of MySpace, is calling Google+ his vision finally coming into fruition. Stan Shroeder of Mashable.com claims that it “…might be one of the fastest-growing networks ever.” Since its release less than two weeks ago it has already hit and passed the 10-million mark. So after giving the new social
network a spot on my Firefox toolbar, here is the good:
- It integrates all the awesome tools Googleoffers (i.e. +1 button, video, chat)
- Hangouts; as a recent graduate who went from living with five friends to none, it felt like I was in my college house again
- You can edit posts, comments, or anything else after you’ve shared it
- The circles feature is much more user friendly than Facebook’s, and lets you add contacts to multiple groups
- Contacts you add are similar to Twitter, you can choose to get updates from only those you want to get updates from. None of this Facebook nonsense where you have to have mutual friendships and waste your time hiding updates about those whose friend requests you only accepted so you wouldn’t hurt their feelings
- Private streams: I can list you as an acquaintance even though you list me as your friend, and you’ll never know!
In between the good and bad are the sharing capabilities. Yes there is more interaction with content; if you have a Google+ profile you know that all you’ve seen so far on your stream are link shares and status updates, but there is less interaction with people directly. Of course there is Google chat and Hangouts, but you can’t just go and post something on someone’s wall. With this push for content interaction it may be a good or bad thing, and the reason Google+ may prove to be more formal than Facebook in the long run. With that said, here are the bad and the ugly (layout wise, this is literal):
- Primitive layout; really Google? It’s hurting my eyes. After Facebook’s award-winning, beautiful design it’s a little hard to adapt
- Too much integration? Every time I open up my Google toolbar I have to double check if I’m sending a private e-mail or sharing something to all my circles
- No private messages, to send something to just one person you have to make a separate circle, or go the old fashioned way through e-mail and that can get a little ridiculous
- With so many people trying to join, the server is overloaded and so the refresh rate is extremely slow
Along with the bad, Google+ has left me somewhat confused. How am I supposed to use it? While I’m all for a new kind of social networking, completely different than Facebook, Twitter and the like, how are users intended to interact on this new network? Am I supposed to tailor it so that the content is appropriate and useful for potential employers or business partners a la LinkedIn? Or can I post pictures of my weekends like on Facebook? The issue of privacy has yet to fully arise, as users mostly allow others to view their information without restrictions. From what I have seen so far, it looks to me like Google+ will work like an expansion of Twitter. It has users sharing what they are doing (mostly things like “trying to figure out Google+”), and link sharing.
While Google+ is still in its very early stages, I do see it posing a threat to Facebook, which according to a recent Pew Internet study, is losing its grasp on the teenage population. But from what I’ve seen of Google+, I just can’t see it creating the same kinds of relationships that carry over to the physical world like Facebook has. And with the HTC Status phone (a phone with a physical “Share to Facebook” button) scheduled for release next week, and the network’s recent partnership with Skype, I don’t think Facebook is going anywhere.