Google launched Google+ just a few weeks ago, and it has boomed into a relentless hunger from the Social Media scene to be on the newest and hottest social media platform from one of the most popular brands on the planet, Google. However, I still hear a lot of people asking what exactly is Google+, why they should want to be on it, and how to use Google+. Well, I’m going to try to answer all those questions, and talk about what will become possible in future for Google with this new Google+ social media platform.
Be forewarned, this is a pretty heavy article. Read on after the break.
The New Social Media Platform
Google+ can be seen as a mashup between Facebook and Twitter, bringing concepts from both popular social platform into Google+. Fundamentally, Google+ views all your friends as friend circles which is very similar to Facebook Friend Groups. However, Google+ forces you to sort your friends into the individual circles when you “follow” your friends and forces you to think how to categorize your friends. Adding a friend into a circle is different from friending a person on Facebook. Google+ uses the Twitter’s style of “following” where you follow your friend and the content he shares, but he doesn’t necessarily have to follow you back. This allows you to control the content you share while still receiving the content you want on the Google+ Stream.
When you take a look at Google+ Stream, it looks very much like Facebook with the streaming content on your “wall” from your friends, and also the ability to share the usual content like website links, photos/galleries, videos and locations to your friends.
Of course, if Google+ offers you exactly the same as Facebook, there’s no reason for you to switch. Google added the ability to edit what you share even AFTER you’ve shared it. Not only that, you can specifically target the content you share to 5 types:
- Public – Visible to anyone who’s added you to a circle, as well as on your public profile
- Your Circles – Everyone in your circles
- Extended Circles – Everyone in your circles, plus all the people in their circles
- Individual Circles – Everyone in a specific circle
- Individual – A specific person
This pretty much gives you complete control over who you want to consume the content you share, which is the entire premise of Google+. Controlling your content to a controlled circle of friends, or public, whichever your choice is in a simple manner, right in your face.
The Glue of Google
I had a discussion about Google last year with Daniel Tsou, our chief of Tech65, about the possibility of a Google OS (maybe a future Chrome OS) completely made of all the Google services available tied seamlessly together. However, the one missing piece we both agreed was lacking is a platform unifying all the services, a Google social platform similar to Facebook except geared towards an entire OS ecosystem on the cloud. This, as we have predicted, is now called Google+.
Google+ (or fondly called G+) is what I would call the glue between all the Google Services. The aggregation of all the individual services into one unifying platform while still maintaining its individuality, which is very critical to Google’s existing services. Right now, Google Picasa (soon to be rebranded Google Photos), Google Buzz, Google Chat, etc have been somewhat integrated in some form or other into the social platform giving the service an actual consumer-centric purpose rather than a standalone service. This is only the first step.
Going forward, I foresee more services from Google will be tightly integrated into Google+, like Google Mail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Youtube while still leaving these services accessible as separate entities should you not want to consume them within a single Google+ social platform. The possibilities become endless when you provide a social sharing platform to these services. Integration and synchronization of your Google+ friends with Google Contacts will make managing contacts a breeze, giving you the ability to keep yourself updated with your individual contacts.
Similarly, integrating some of Google’s existing communities like Youtube, Google Hotpot, Google Places, Google Offers, etc. into Google+ while maintaining each separate community (or simply phasing out the community if it doesn’t make sense) will increase the interaction and activity in these services. Your Google+ Stream will become richer, with more content and notification services tightly integrated into a stream of information which you can filter based on your circles (that’s why circles are important). Google+ will be the one social platform you’ll go to for all your information and happenings.
Google Buzz is like the awkward uncle you never talk about, and Google+ Stream is like the cool uncle everyone loves (right now anyway). Personally, I think Google Buzz should really be phased out and include the ability to connect twitter and Facebook directly into the Google+ Stream. Not only that, if Google provides the ability to connect to every other social platform today and in future into G+, it won’t alienate other existing social platforms.
Integrating Google Translate into G+ will allow conversations across borders, breaking all possible language boundaries by providing the ability to converse and translate almost in real-time with increasing accuracy as more people use Google Translate. Imagine the possibilities on this one.
So… You have photos, videos, blogs, location, other social platforms, emails, calendar appointments, documents, etc… All tied into 1 single platform called G+. Now, imagine this is your “cloud” operating system.
That is Google+, the glue between the Google Services.
P.S. I’ve decided to split this into 2 parts. In Part 2, I will talk about the potential benefits from Google’s side of things, and what might happen to Google 5-10 years down the road. Watch for Part 2 soon.