Google Plus is the newest social effort from the Google empire. I was never a fan of Google Wave or Buzz and felt that Google had missed the point of social completely with both of them. However, from what I have seen from the Google Plus demo this incarnation has real potential.
Google Plus – Why It’s a Threat to Twitter
A lot of posts and articles were published yesterday on why Google Plus will spell the end of Facebook – I disagree. Facebook’s hold on social networking is fairly unassailable. Certainly Google is unlikely to make much of an impact in the next year on Facebook’s position as the number one social networking platform. However, where I do see it making a clear impact is on Twitter. Twitter hasn’t evolved in the past 4 years since its appearance. Sure it has gotten bigger and added things like the Retweet feature and that is about it.
In the past four years Facebook has added and redefined features throughout the site, paying particular attention to both advertisers and brands that want to leverage the platform. They are making money from their modifications. While Twitter, who currently claims it has attracted 600 marketers to run “sponsored” tweets with them is not making money. In addition its lack of innovation and evolution is concerning. Add to this the fact that its creators, Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and now Biz Stone have all left the company or at least greatly reduced their involvement and you have to question how much longer Twitter can limp along.
Google Plus Features
Let’s look at the feature set that Google Plus seems likely to launch with:
- Circles – think of this as being similar to Facebook lists or more importantly Twitter lists. Facebook lists, even by Zuckerberg’s own admission are only used by a small percentage of Facebook users (I happen to be one of them). Twitter lists however are what power Tweetdeck, Seesmic and Hootsuite – three top Twitter applications and what make the Twitter stream readable. Without them there would be no Twitter. Google Plus is coming out with these as a central feature, which immediately means that you can sort the noise from the signal.
- Hangouts – Facebook has nothing like this, but Twitter does – Hashtags/Twitterchats. Google Plus goes one better by including video. Every tablet, laptop and a lot of Desktops now ship with a webcam built in. I for one could definitely see standout Twitter chats switching to this medium and becoming much more engaging. For example Mack Collier‘s Sunday evening #blogchat with video would be an amazing show that would be hard to miss for anyone with an interest in blogging.
- Sparks – This is basically the incorporation of Google Reader into a social setting – think Twitter search/Hashtags. Tell Google Plus what you are interested in and it delivers it.
- Photos – Think of how many picture uploading sites there are on Twitter – YFrog, TwitPic and of course now Twitter has it’s own – Google Plus is launching with this feature included but goes one step further by allowing you to decide which Circle in your network can see the pictures. So perhaps you have a Circle of fellow foodies, you take a pic at your favorite restaurant and instead of slamming everyone’s stream you only share it with those people you know will be interested.
Google Plus Intimacy
What I see dominating Google Plus is “intimacy”. Or at least the ability to create intimacy. A way to truly connect with people without having to reduce the size of your network. By A list comparison I have a fairly small Twitter network at just over 9,000 followers. I find it hard to keep up with all the great content that is sent my way through the network, I have 20 Twitter lists and numerous searches open in Seesmic all the time as a way of filtering that flow. Google Plus seems to recognize both the need and the desire by users for this type of filtering and I’m glad to see them building it into the beta.
I’m not suggesting you shut down your Twitter account just yet, but as soon as you are invited to the Google Plus beta I would make sure that you start to create an environment that allows you to transfer your activity there from Twitter should things pan out the way I think they will. What do you like about Google Plus?