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A part of me thought when I read about Google’s new social network Google+, “not another social network!”
As I have played and interacted with this Google+ platform and project over the last week, I have started to sense that this not just another social network, this is a glimpse what the web is becoming, a social synergistic multi-media integrated environment that allows us to interact in global communities and one to one almost seamlessly. This is possibly a profound shift to a new generation of the social web.
Google+’s new social network I believe is a second generation social network that will connect the islands of dots and data that is still eluding Facebook and take the web to the next level.
It will be a web where every element of our lives and personas will be enhanced by an internet that increasingly adds a pervasive artificial intelligence that can be viewed online and shared if we so choose, in a variety of ways.
Social networks provide us with a way of not only engaging but quantifying and measuring the way in which we touch people’s lives whether it be with something as simple as following, liking, retweeting and sharing across this global shining orb of 6 billon plus people.
I have skimmed across the top of this emerging ecosystem for the first week as part of the field trial (I almost felt like a lab rat) and saw social media mavens and mavericks lavish praise and occasional critical comment as they tossed words, images and videos into the passing stream of updates and opinions. I have also dived in a little deeper and experienced usability that makes Facebook look clunky and cumbersome
It is estimated that Google+ currently has about 1.7 million users after only 10 days according to data collected by Paul Allen.
Google+ can be used almost like Twitter if you build a large circle and it also engages deeply with rich multimedia just like Facebook but I think it will evolve into much more than what we are currently experiencing.
The Google+ platform feels like a modern stylish house that been designed to not only look good with a brilliant user interface that Apple would have designed but it also works very well.
As Steve Jobs said this about great design
“Design is not just how it looks, if you dig a little deeper it is how it works”
Apple took the smart phone and the user interface to a new level and surrounded it with a variety of other integrated offerings such as the app store and it now the most valuable company on the planet. Google+ has the potential to do what Apple has done to Nokia.
Facebook is a first generation social network and after using Google+ the Facebook interface seems very tired like a house that needs a renovation.
Google is also setting out to dominate the second generation social web with a high degree of integration across all its platforms from mobile to video.
Here is what it will be potentially adding to Google over the next 12 months or more if you look at what sits in the Google+ menu next to my Jeff+ tab on my Google+ profile.
Consider the possibilities as Google will evolve every element of its online assets to have Google+ embedded!
Speaking to reporters this week, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google is pleased with the early response to Google+ and is planning to use its core identity and “circles” features across Google products.
“As we move our stuff onto what you think of as Google+, there’s a nice set of product improvements in core search, YouTube, maps, and so forth, which should drive adoption. The assumption is that as it grows and ramps up, everything will move over to using the + infrastructure.”
What could Google+ possibly offer that Facebook and Twitter don’t have? Apart from a very attractive and enticing user interface the answer lies in a wide range of web properties with hundreds of millions of users.
Let us consider some of the possibilities.
There are currently over 200 million Gmail users according to an article in the Guardian and with Google plus embedded in Gmail as well as becoming the default private messaging system in Google+ then the evolution of email will also be part of the revolution of the social web. You will be able to use gmail from within Google+ as well using other messaging options.
YouTube with a massive user base of 490 million users worldwide and adding an integrated Google+ could create a synergy could make it compelling for people to join the Google+ network for additional viral capacity horsepower.
Android is the fastest growing mobile platform for smart phones and it currently has greater market share than Apple’s iPhone according to Nielsen (at 38% compared to Apple’s 27%), with Nokia, Blackberry and Microsoft look like fighting over the scraps. Embedding Google+ within the Android operating system will be a very compelling reason for users to join up to the the Google+ social network. There are an estimated 500,000 Android phones being activated every day according to Wikipedia, so taking that daily rate there will be well over 360 million Android users within 2 years which adds fuel to the Google+ growth potential.
The integration of Google+ with the Android has maybe the greatest potential to make Google+ a success with mobile and social combining to being a perfect addiction. Figures from the UK as revealed by the Guardian show that nearly half of the minutes spent online on mobiles in December was to visit Facebook.
I don’t know about you but I must use Google maps on my iPhone and computer several times a day. Just imagine the potential of an integrated Google+ with Google maps
Picasa will renamed Google photos and with that re-branding will be features and functions that will be part of the Google+ integration strategy.
Blogger is one of the top 5 websites in the world and will also be re-branded as part of the Google+ project. The potential for Google to make it compelling to join Google+ to enhance your Blogger account I am sure will very persuasive and tempting.
I haven’t added the number of users for these 6 Google web properties but it is a captive and compelling user base approaching 1 billion.
As a marketer you cannot ignore the potential of this new platform because the feedback from within this field trial and the clamouring of the outsiders to be let into Google+ has all the hallmarks of success that even Google in its wildest dreams could not have imagined. This project has the signs of a strategy that has been not only well planned but executed with precision and a clear idea of its future potential.
Google+ for Enterprise (Google’s answer to Facebook’s ‘pages’ for companies) is apparently following closely behind this initial phase with some pundits predicting its arrival in two weeks.
Initial signs of increased traffic to my blog from posting blog posts into an initial small Google+ community are very encouraging and I expect to see this increase significantly as users flood into the social network. The implications for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and search are so significant that it is a generational change that will send SEO engineers back to the classroom.
Google plus is not an isolated project but a Google wide project that will transform the company at every niche and level.
The implications are that Facebook will need to continue to reinvent even faster because if it doesn’t Google+ might be the light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a team of rescuers but a train called Google+ that might threaten to derail the Facebook IPO.
Mark Zuckeberg has serious competition on his hands!
Google now has the user interface to tempt users to leave Facebook and the promise of integrated web properties to make a very compelling case for an alternative to Facebook.
My prediction! Google + will become the fastest growing social network in history and break the records set by Facebook.
Image by johnscotthaydon