For the last two days, the interwebz have been buzzing about the latest thing to be launched in the world of Social Networking: Google Plus.
You may have noticed that a few weeks ago, Google Plus buttons started showing up on websites (look down at the bottom of this post for an example). Over the last couple of days, Google rolled a social network that goes with those little buttons.
Google Plus is a lot like Facebook. Anyone can join: you don’t need to have a Google account already, although it seems like those with Google accounts are getting on the bandwagon earlier, and are gaining access to the system quicker.
G + offers a bunch of features (some of which may sound very familiar!):
Posts: Like a tweet or a status update, you can post what’s going through your brain right at this moment. You can choose which networks, or “circles” you want to share this info with, and they can comment on your post. You also have the ability to share links, videos, and photos, and geotag them. I like the idea of Circles, because I currently use the list feature on Facebook to limit what certain of my friends see: for example, if you are someone I don’t know very well, you’ll have less access to my profile and posts than someone who is a close friend. Circles allows you to do that.
Hangouts: This is a cool feature that Facebook does not have. It allows you to video chat with a group of friends. Could be quite useful for video conferencing.
Huddle: Similar to the Hangout, only using chat, this feature allows you to create a chat between a group of friends.
Picasa Integration: because Google owns Picasa, you can upload your photos and have them be seen instantly by your circles. Or, if you are already using Picasa, you can make the photos public (or not).
Sparks: the feature I’m least familiar with, and haven’t accessed yet, Google says “Tell Sparks what you’re into and it will send you stuff it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.”
Part of the reason there’s been such a bru-ha-ha over Google Plus over the last few days is because Google, similar to when they rolled out Gmail, has made it by invitation only, which is a brilliant piece of marketing. Scarcity creates demand. My twitter feed has been exploding over the last two days with tweets asking if anyone had invitations to share. There was such demand, in fact, that the invite mechanism essentially crashed, and got broken. Google didn’t have the bandwidth to keep up. I’m sure this will all be sorted out in following days. The process of inviting people is also very confusing, hopefully this will also be fixed.
Will Google Plus be the next big thing? Who knows. You can’t out-Facebook Facebook, and this week, Facebook’s number hit 750 Million world-wide. Are there more than in the world that have Google accounts? Or will it end up being “another thing to check.”
Also, the last two things Google rolled out, Google Buzz and The Wave, didn’t do so well. There was initial excitement, but it didn’t last very long, and they faded out.
Will Google Plus be the next big thing? Who knows. Only time will tell. That’s one of the great things about social media. There’s always something new and exciting just around the corner…