A new powerhouse is slowly forming in the world of social networking, and its name is quite a familiar one.
In the beginning of July, Google ran a trial version of their new identity service. After two weeks, it had reached ten million users. This is yet another addition to their already vast options of Google services, ones that include Google Documents, Reader, Gmail, etc.
Over the past couple months, they have begun the beta testing stages, and have allowed people to join the site through the work of invites. While the site is incredibly young, it has already garnered quite the reputation and has pulled in users from all over the world, and the number of users only continues to rise. There’s a whirlwind of speculation as to how this could potentially change the social networking market, and most of all, how this could possibly complete with Facebook in the future, and even topple the giant itself.
Google+ appears to have done their homework as well, for when I first received an invite and created my account, I found some things in my explorations that many others and myself had been asking for right there on my computer screen.
There’s a large group of those out there who have had awkward experiences with this one. All you have to do is take a look at lamebook.com to see all of the people who sometimes forget just who is on their friends list. An inappropriate comment read by a mother, a disparaging remark, about a boss read by that same boss, an accidental line about an ex that you never actually deleted, it’s all happened and it can be quite embarrassing. But with Google+, there is a Circles application that ensures this doesn’t happen, and allows your posts to go to the select group you intend it for.
Have a personal story you want to share? Click the friends circle. Want to update your family on a sick parent? Click the family circle. Really want to post that disparaging remark about that boss? Use whatever circle that the comment won’t be seen or come back to them. With Circles, you can still have all the connections you would on another social networking site, but you can manage who among those connections sees what you post.
Many things you will see on Google+ are things you have seen before, but it’s simply more organized, updated, if you will. There’s a new “Start a Hangout” option, where you can do a video chat with an entire circle of your friends, or family, or whoever you choose. Up to ten people can stop in and chat with you. You can also stream your news on your homepage however you wish. Simply click the friends circle, and you’ll only see news privy to that circle.
The Sparks option keeps all of your interests in a section you can feel free to go through at any time, with constant updates in news, or even discounts for events based on that activity. There’s a +1 tab that you can find on your profile page, that lets you see everything you’ve +1’ed, or in other terms, you’ve “liked,” which is nice so that if you want to go back to something you thought was really funny or amusing you don’t have to search all over the place for it, you can simply click your +1’s and find it there.
The Future of Google+
As Google+ continues to market the upcoming official release of their service, and as they continue to gain users by the minute, one has to wonder what this will mean for the likes of Facebook. Some might argue that Facebook and Twitter, while both very successful, have been able to find that success under the same roof and share the spotlight. However, Twitter offers a bit of a different, more quick and less detailed version of the social networking world, which makes it a generally different product and not exactly direct competition with Facebook.
While going through Google+, I couldn’t help think that was indeed just Facebook+. It does everything the current champion does, but things are more organized, more sleek, and there are extra additions which will enamor new users and cause them to switch over. And we all saw what happened when Facebook came out and its sort-of-like-Myspace-but-better identity came into place. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t an aspiring musician of some sort who still uses the service.
There can only be one King of the mountain, and Facebook has been wearing the crown for several years. But everything does come to an end, or to at least some sort of a fall, and Google+ may be signaling some impending doom for Facebook.
No one knows what the future holds, but a recent survey projected that 13% of all U.S. adults have already joined, and it’s predicted the number will be around 22% by the end of the first year.
I’d have to propose that we have a new King in waiting.