THUNDER BAY – Special to NNL – Google+ is Google’s most recent venture into the lucrative social media world. I have been using Google+ for almost a week now, and while the experience hasn’t been extraordinary, it hasn’t been bad either.
The most prominent feature of Google+ is Circles. Circles are a way of organizing your contacts into groups of people, so that when you share a status update you can easily select who can see the update. While Facebook does offer the same feature through its lists, Google+’s Circles are much easier to use. This is likely Google+’s strongest feature, and part of its effort to differentiate itself from Facebook through stronger privacy controls.
A feature unique to Google+ is Hangouts, which is essentially a web based group video chat system. Very easy to use, and by using circles you can easily select who is allowed to join the chat.
If you have an Android phone, you can take advantage of the mobile app for Google+. In addition to what’s offered on the web version, the app also includes a group messaging feature that makes it easy to start group chats. There currently is no app for the iPhone, but one is planed for the future.
My experience with Google+ has been pretty positive for the most part, but its main lacking feature is that not enough of my friends are using it.
While reviewing anything Google does to enter the social media landscape, one cannot help but compare anything Google does to Facebook. It is hard to speculate if Google+ will become a ‘Facebook killer’ as it’s still very young, but this is likely not Google’s entire plan. All Google needs to is for people to spend less time on Facebook.com, and more time on Google.com. Google has figured out that by integrating their social media experience into their core business: search, they can get more people using their service whether they really want to or not. So the next time you go to search for something on Google, expect to see more about what your friends are doing and liking.
As for Facebook, we can expect to see them launch a lot of new features and innovations in a short period of time. The first of which will be video chat which utilizing Skype technology. Skype was recently purchased by Microsoft, and one can only speculate if Steve Balmer is up to something. Perhaps we might see Facebook start to enter the search engine market, with either their own offering, or a stronger partnership with Bing, also owned by Microsoft. Even though Facebook is the largest social media platform by far, they do have a lot of experience when it comes to battling with competitors. When they were a university only social network, they would often have to fight off competitors from taking over a particular school by going into what they call, “lockdown mode,” where employees would spend hours working on specific features to beat out their competitors.
So who is the most popular user on Google+? It just happens to be Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, with 29,543 follows. Just ahead of Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, with 19,878 followers.
Brian Jones is the owner of Breeze River Software in Thunder Bay.