Google+ has been dominating the online world ever since Google opened its doors for a limited set of users on June 29. For the record, this is the search major’s latest foray into the social media space following its earlier services Orkut and Buzz. The popularity of the new service soared, reminding us of the days when Google announced their mail offering, Gmail years ago, as invite-only. This time around, the socially active audience took the new social media offering truly social, with invites being gifted, auctioned or sold even on competing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Ironically, given the rivalry between the two internet giants, according to Google+ Statistics, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is leading the list with more than 110,000 followers.
1. For those who are still unaware about the features on Google+, the new offering is a mix of other social media offerings from Facebook and Friendfeed. It allows users to keep track of updates from users who can be segregated by ‘Circles’, on their ‘Stream’. Users can ‘+1’ posts on their streams, customise their streams according to circles and also share content publicly or only with designated circles. Since users can add anyone to their circles even without being connected to them (unless blocked by the user), Google has allowed users to increase interactions among members without much fuss. ‘Hangout’ offers users a chance to have a video conference with a maximum of ten users at the same time, and also allows sharing of and discussion about YouTube videos from the same browser window. ‘Sparks’ offers lists of interests and presents the latest news on each subject in a readable format. The mobile app includes ‘Huddle’, which is designed for people to chat simultaneously.
2. As expected, the early adopters are the social media regulars who have got yet another platform to be active on. While most of them talked about their initial experiences across other platforms, social media enthusiast and blogger Robert Scoble conducted experiments on the new platform by releasing videos and images exclusively on Google+. In one post, he talked about the enhanced engagement offered by the platform and reported that the videos and images were getting more views only through this platform as compared to the total views garnered from all other social media platforms.
3. Marketers have already started testing the platform, with Ford Motor Company being one among the first to engage followers on Google+. Based on feedback received from their followers, the brand already hosted a live chat about their digital and social success ‘The Ford Story’ with their director of marketing communications, Matt Van Dyke. The brand has also planned ‘Hangout’ conversations with its followers over the next few weeks. Indian brands like MTV and Channel [v] have also joined the bandwagon to engage with their audiences, despite a post from Google informing about their plans to delete non-user profiles. Both brands are using the platform to promote their shows and artistes.
In a post on Google+’s official blog, Christian Oestlian, the guy in charge of ads for the project, wrote, “The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it.”
4. Penetration of the medium in the social media space will depend on whether users will be ready to shift from existing platforms. Kim Saldanha, vice president – marketing, Customer Centria, feels Google will give it everything it’s got to make it succeed. She added, "The basic building blocks are in place, and it has been well received by consumers and critics alike, so with the Google might behind it, there is no reason why it shouldn’t become as viral as the nature of the product itself. Also, the worldwide social media space is huge and hence it has the capability to absorb multiple players, provided each of them have a unique offering and provide a delightful experience." It will be sometime before we know whether Google+ has nailed it this time, and they will continue to hope more people click ‘+1’ for the new ‘G+’.
What it means for...
- One more service that allows to network online
- Allows to segregate people in 'Circles'
- Share content publicly or with designed 'Circles'
- Group video conferencing using 'Hangout'
- More targeted engagement opportunites
- Google's customised offering for brands would definitely be thought through from a brand's engagement needs