Why I Think Google+ has the Potential to Kill Facebook

Google PlusThere’s been so much flying around the Internet with regard to Google’s new social service (Google +), that I thought it warranted a quick post.

I don’t want to drag this article out too much, after all this is a wine website; but with me taking such an active interest in social media, I thought it was worth letting you know some of my insights: 

Google seems to be listening to its audience (customers), unlike Facebook.

I’ve always said that Facebook’s lack of customer service will be its downfall. You can’t just go around making changes which affect the accounts and sometimes privacy of millions, without pissing a few people off. Zuckerberg seems to be all about “social” and “sharing”; but when it comes to sharing with its users its privacy policy, and making its settings more socially acceptable, it fails. Badly. Or in the words of Stephen Colbert "…he values his privacy much more than he values yours."

Maybe the problem is that Facebook views it’s users as just that. Users. People whom should be grateful for using its social service for free, instead of what they actually are; a vital component to the success of its platform.

Facebook provides zero customer service no matter whether you’re an average user, or a company spending thousands on their ads. To me there’s fundamentally something wrong with that.
This isn’t to insist that Google is to provide a panacea for all these problems; but at this stage I think people are ready for any type of “change”.
[NB: I could have made a political joke there about “hope” and “change”, but I resisted. I think I’ll pat myself on the back for that.]


Integration

I’ve been a big fan of Google for about 6 years now. I started using Gmail back when you needed an invite to join, and I’m now at 92% capacity of my inbox. I’ll have some serious email deleting to do in a few months!
Google + integrates seamlessly into the top menu of Gmail when you’re logged into email, making it very quick to multi-task without continuously logging in and out, such as with FB.
+ users can therefore simply navigate back-and- forth between email, calendars, web search and Google Plus accounts etc.

 

Selective Sharing via Circles

It blows my mind that this hasn’t been developed as a feature on Facebook!
Currently, Zucks doesn’t think it’s relevant that there’s certain things you would want to share with certain select individuals. He thinks you should be sharing EVERYTHING with EVERYONE!
Google seems to be viewing things a little differently, at least at this stage of the game…
With Google +, all of your friends are grouped within specific “Circles”, based on how they fit into your life. So for example (see below screenshot), I have Friends, Family, Social Media Folks, Wine People, Acquaintances and Following (people I’ve never met, but I find their content interesting).
There’s times when I only want to share specific content with my Social Media Folks circle; as I know that my Friends will find very little relevance in it. Likewise, I would only want to be sharing personal content with my Family circle, as, yup, it’s Personal!
With Circles, you are provided with a much better safeguard against oversharing, therefore helping to cut-down on noise in the stream.

Google Plus Circles

Hangouts

Hangouts are simply video chatrooms using your webcam, and could certainly be seen as Google’s ace card!
Again, using your circles, you can broadcast to specific groups that you’re going online, and are available to chat. Hangout video chats only allow 10 users in each room, with a very basic interface, but are a tool which up until this stage haven’t been capitalized on by any social media platform.

Google still has yet to launch a way for businesses to integrate into +, but the video chat Hangout concept could be a huge! I’ll get to why I think so in a minute.

Google-hangouts

 

Spam!

A big downfall of MySpace (remember them) was the amount of spam, and unfortunately Facebook looks to be going the same way. It seems like a daily occurrence that one of your friends has clicked on some erroneous video link stating “OMG!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS GIRL DID THIS!!! LOL!!!”, which just turns out to be spam, ends up posting to all of their friend’s wall’s, and sometimes links to viruses/adware.
Google aren’t stupid, they see this. It’s too early to tell whether Google will be able to do a better job than Facebook on cutting down on spam, but I would expect it to be a be a major concern.

 

Google Sparks

Another ace card for Google +, but still with a little work to be done. Google Sparks is just a real-time display of web results in the topics that interest you. If you select “wine” and “cars” as topics of interest, you can add them to your list of Sparks, and your continually refreshed stream will show only these results from all over the web. In that sense, think of Sparks like the Pandora music player; but instead of playing your favorite tunes, Google Sparks is listing (what it thinks) are potentially your favorite types of articles.
I predict that Google Sparks will become huge, once more people are using the platform overall. Websites and businesses will inevitably also start spending huge amounts of money to get their results to appear in your Sparks stream first, and for a longer period of time. Again, this is another opportunity for spam, so Google need to watch themselves to make sure it doesn’t get out of control!

 

Google + is prettier.

Lets face it, design is everything when it comes to these types of services. Google + makes Facebook look like old MySpace. There are only so many changes that Facebook can make to the layout of its site. Too many changes, and people will be jumping ship in droves. 
Google is starting completely fresh, and has obviously learnt from the mistakes of Facebook. The Google + interface is very clean, and easy to operate after just a couple of hours of playing about with it. There are of course a few tricks to be learnt, but nowhere near as many hoops to jump through as Facebook.

Google Plus Dashboard

 

Google owns search

It’s undeniable, if someone if using a search engine, there’s a very good chance that it’s Google. They own the majority of search results on the web, and also have a huge influence on the way businesses are displayed.
Google + connects the dots (or at least has the potential to) for the search giant. If they can make this new social-service work, there are limitless opportunities for businesses which are opened up, for example:

– If you’re going online to look for a service, let’s say for example a plumber; Google is going to be your first stop, and not a purely social-networking site such as Facebook. Needless to say, Google will inevitably be linking business pages with their associated Google + accounts, once the business page service gets up and running.

– Linking in this way puts a face (+ account) to a name (search result). You could connect with Bob the Plumber, view all his followers, photos of his previous work, and testimonials on what a good job he does etc.

– In this same respect, maybe the receptionist at Bob’s is constantly logged in to Google Hangout’s, so that you can actually show them the part of your plumbing which isn’t working; therefore potentially saving unnecessary time and money.

– To take this one step further, maybe Bob decides that he wants to do a little customer outreach, and conduct a once a week 30 minute plumbing class, also using Google Hangouts.
The possibilities are endless!

 

 

The Demise of FacebookConclusion

It is of course still early days for Google +. There are a TON of glitches which they need to work out very quickly if they are going to convert users from The Facebook. However, here-and-now, I predict that Google + will be huge! I’m not too sure if it will grow to the same size as Facebook, but I think it will end up attracting a more mature audience.

Facebook isn’t going down without a fight though! They are going to do everything they can to stop you from transitioning all of your photos and friends from its platform over onto Google +. As just one sign that Facebook fears the mighty Google, they recently blocked contact uploads from Gmail, so that you can’t search your email contacts to discover which of your friends are on Facebook. A petty move I thought, but maybe it’s just one sign that Zuckerberg is fearing the inevitable…

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