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July 21, 2011

Impressions of Google Plus Part II

Last week I posted some of my thoughts of Google+. After using it some more, I have a few others particularly what other social media sites may or may not fall to the new kid on the block in social media.

While Google+ has been by invite only to date, being able to get a Google+ account has been enabled and disabled on various occasions. While Google has said it had to do with not allowing too many people to sign up at once and Google is better able to develop Google+ by limiting sign ups this is a great way of marketing. By doing this, Google is creating a demand for this new way of sharing. Ever see a long line to get in a club or restaurant? When you do go in, you may note it is not as busy inside as it appears outside. I know how I felt having an invitation but not able to get a Google+ account. Google+ has gotten a lot of attention on blogs such as Mashable and on other social media sites like Twitter and even Facebook.

A lot of people are saying that Google+ will adversely affect Facebook. Facebook has shown their concern and made it more difficult to export Facebook friends. Facebook has also hired some key people from Google the past few months. These people are certainly aware of the workings of Google and have probably communicated this to their colleagues at Facebook. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world with over 500 million subscribers. I do not see an en mass defection from Facebook of your friends and family despite having a low customer satisfaction rate per a July 19 article in PC Magazine. There will be those who leave Facebook for Google+. This already is happening. There are also security concerns about Facebook that have been noted by many.

The 140 character limit of Twitter is both a blessing and a curse for Google+. A challenge of Google+ is to become less bloated in my opinion. On one side you have a 140 character limit that you can include links in order to share additional information. On the other hand, there are quite a few times when 140 characters are not enough. When using your smartphone which has a small screen, Twitter has an advantage. If using hashtags (#)  in Google+ were to catch on, this could change the playing field here somewhat. While you also can have lists in Twitter, Circles are easier to manage.  Further Twitter is considered to be an information network (news has been known to break out here) while Google+ is considered a social network. I do not see people using Google+ to report on a national crisis like they used Twitter in Egypt a few months ago.

LinkedIn is where I feel Google+ can do the most damage. For starters, LinkedIn is providing more subscription services. Google+ is a networking device where no definition as to whether it is used for personal as opposed to business use. Once businesses are in Google+, I believe the playing field will change. As a whole, LinkedIn users tend to be more tech savvy than Facebook users (how many 70 year old grandmothers are on LinkedIn?). Dell is thinking of allowing their tech support to use Google+.  They can have a video chat in Hangouts where you can see a face and make their job more of a personal interaction. Hangouts can change how customer service is handled.

There are those who also consider other sites like Skype and Flickr at risk. I definitely can see Skype being at risk due to the Huddles feature of Google+. Huddles allows you to have a video conference with as many as 10 people and at no charge. At present, you need a subscription plan to have a group video conference using Skype. Skype will need to change this.
Flickr is another matter. As someone having a Flickr account, it is largely a niche site for photographers.  Without purchasing a pro account for $25 annually, you can only show and access 200 of your pictures on your account. It also is easy in Flickr to tag multiple pictures at once and relatively easy to manage your pictures. Flickr has good discussion groups to discuss about photography related issues and those who participate are always willing to help with photography tips of their own. From what I am seeing, quite a few who have pro accounts are not renewing or debating whether or not to renew their account. Google+ will for one need to make it easier to issue the same tags to multiple pictures.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it will be interesting to see how Google+ is integrated with Google's other programs such as their calendar and mail applications. No matter what happens I have learned this: What is the hot thing now will not be the hot thing tomorrow. Google is hot now but they will have the day when they are not the hot thing.