The newest social network is finally here and we’ve been playing with it for close to a week now. Here are our thoughts on what businesses and individuals need to watch out for.
Growth here is rapid.
Google+ is projected to reach more than 20 million users in less than three weeks. This rapid growth brings new follows and friends into the network, and like Quoara a few months ago, we expect most users to be overwhelmed. While Google+ offers ways to organize your friends (into circles), it will still take some time for users to get on top of things. Read Tara Hunt’s account of the torrent of follows she had to grapple with here.
It takes work to control the flood of information.
We agree with Robert Scoble who says Google+ needs a filtering mechanism before it goes mainstream.
One way to filter is by separating out your contacts into different circles and following only those circles you might be interested in at the moment. However, as Scoble points out, unlike Facebook Groups, where the associations are by interest, Google+ circles are ad hoc and there’s no guarantee that your circle of friends in the healthcare industry (for example) will talk about healthcare issues.
Friendship on Google+ is asynchronous.
On Google+ you can follow anyone you want to but unlike Facebook and Linkedin, the people you follow are under no obligation to follow you back. This makes Google+ more like Twitter, a fact noted my many, including GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram who points out that Google+ may be a bigger threat to Twitter than it is to Facebook.
Although Google+ adds a layer (circle) between the consumer and businesses, it boasts the Twitter-esq ability to network effectively with other businesses. And, like Twitter, Google+ will allow like-minded companies to engage each other without scaring off their consumers.
Google+ is real time.
Ingram’s article also points out that Google+ content sharing and interactions all take place in real-time, which creates a real threat towards the Twitter format. There is no ‘wall’ for you to share and archive. There is only the torrent of information you actively share in real-time with your various circles or with all of your friends.
The business experience is still unclear.
Some businesses have already signed up and created profiles. Google is promising a better user experience for business users and has asked businesses to hold off on signing up until it is ready.
There have already been reports of spammers and the early adopter community on Google+ has been quick to report any signs of brands trying to work their way into communities.
Careful …Google+ is not there yet. Start thinking outside of the box.
Our advice to businesses: be patient. It would be ill-advised to jump into the un-defined waters of this website before Google’s approval. Right now, people are looking for people and not for businesses.
However, prime your keyboards and get ready to join the network soon. Once the users become comfortable with the Google system, you can be sure that there will be an amazing amount of opportunity to be realized. Savvy consumers may even start building a “deals” or “coupons” circle, which could provide distance between consumers and their social life yet allow them to engage with businesses on their own terms. This will provide businesses a very real opportunity to be “polite” online (an increasingly difficult achievement through Facebook).