October 26, 2011 Integra1

Google+: Should I go for it?

This is the third part of IMG’s Google+ series of blog posts.  Miss the first one?  Check it out by clicking here. or the second one here.

G+:  How the competition stacks up

There’s been some buzz going around lately that G+ is a potential Facebook killer.  Personally, I don’t believe that kind of hype.

“But Josh!  You just said last post that you liked G+.  Why the change of opinion?”

Well, I didn’t change my opinion.  I still firmly believe G+ is a solid platform with a lot a room to grow into a dominant social media site.  What I don’t buy into is that it is in direct competition with Facebook.  Not in its current form at least.  There’s a lot that G+ lacks that Facebook still reigns supreme in the social media market.

Personally, I feel that G+ is lining itself up more to compete with Twitter right now, but not in the sense that it’s going to conquer it.  Essentially, both platforms exist to send out messages to those who “follow” them.   There is a simple opt-in opt-out method of whom to follow that doesn’t quite make it seem so intimate as becoming “friends.” This lack of intimacy does make it a little unorthodox when it comes to trying to share information.  On G+ and Twitter you’re limited to “Tagging” the person that you want to share information with, whereas on Facebook this is easily skipped over and you can simply post directly to their wall.  It also allows to more easily follow discussions: a place where both Facebook and G+ shine, but where Twitter lacks.

So where’s the innovation?  What can we expect to see?

The way that I see the current trend of these sites is this:  Facebook seems to have itself rooted firmly in the ground as the Family & Friends network; A one-stop shop to catch up with those who are close to you.

Twitter seems to have evolved itself to an Instant News Network.  Sure you can follow your friends and family and post about what you had for lunch, but it’s so much more powerful than that.  Follow prominent people in your job field, news networks, and businesses and it turns into constant stream of information offering latest news headlines and trending industry topics.  I like to think of Twitter more along the lines of a running ticker you normally see at the bottom of a newscast that has the latest hot topics.

Google+, although still growing, has become my stop for discussion.  The platform offers copious amounts of room to post until your heart’s content.   I see it as being a social blogging site of sorts.  It gives the freedom to not only choose to exactly who is able to see your posts, but to also use your circles to filter out different categories of information that you want to see for yourself.  So if I put a bunch of known photographers into a Photography circle, I can simply click on that and get a personal feed of all their posts.  G+ allows users to easily filter themselves out to particular groups, but equally easy to filter incoming messages.


The grass is always greener

So how are each of the sites trying to sustain their userbase to prevent migration to other networks?  Well if that past couple months have taught is anything it’s that these websites have proven to be rather dynamic.  Each rolling out with new features seemingly trying to out-do one another.

When certain tools started appearing to help people import their Facebook contacts list to G+, Facebook shut them down.  When G+ added games, Facebook responds with new game features such as bookmarks, achievements, and larger resolutions to play the games in.  Twitter is even responding to both of these sites with their new photo gallery addition to profiles.

One of the biggest response to G+ has been Facebook’s new implementation of subscriptions and lists.  The former being similar to G+, but more specifically Twitter, in terms of “following” specific people.  So instead of being a fan or a friend, you can now subscribe to an individual’s (read: celebrity) feed.  The latter, lists, are an answer to G+’s Circles.  You can now go into your friend list and assign people to circles such as friends, family, co-workers, etc. and then when you submit posts for yourself you can assign to which group receives that information.  The problems with this for me is:

1.) The process is tedious.
2.) I have established a wealthy amount of friends and I don’t want to go back and assign each individual into a specific group.

So although it’s nice for the users to have the option of using these features, I don’t see myself using them anytime soon, but who’s to say what the rest of the user-base will do?

Which horse should I bet on?

In the end it really makes no difference what platform that you choose to use, but you need to remember that there are plenty options out there. Each of these online platforms boasts registered users in the MILLIONS.  By skipping out on any of them can lead to you or your company to miss out on something beneficial.  I generally recommend everyone should jump into new social media outlets even just to test the water.

There most likely isn’t going to be one pure dominant social media outlet for the world that everyone uses and thinks is the best.  There’s too much variance between the networks that almost act like checks and balances system to make sure that none of them seem completely rule the others.  One site can do something innovative, but what’s stopping 50 others from emulating, and possibly implementing something even better?  Websites aren’t the ones that ultimately win the battle for online dominance, it’s the users.

Thank you for checking out our Google+ blog series.  I hope you have found the information relevant and useful.  Stay tuned for more great blogs from IMG.