From the moment G+ was first unveiled, comparisons to facebook quickly flew around the interwebs. “A second coming has occurred! It’s like facebook but slightly better! Whoahh, I can put people in circles?!?!” So is G+ fated to be the social network to end all social networks as some have prophesied? Perhaps, but not for some time. Facebook is still the de facto “big daddy” of social networks with an enormous user base that rivals even the most populous of countries. While I am sure the coming years will bear witness to a heated competition between the two giants, the immediate rivalry will be between Google+ and the second most talked about social network, Twitter.
“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Twitter has forever changed the way the world communicates by instilling a sense of brevity in the social world. When Twitter first was unveiled, many people did not understand it. “Why would anyone want to read 140 character snippets of information?” Of course the real question should have been, “Why would anyone want to read anything longer?” Brevity is in. We have quickly conditioned ourselves to take 2 hour dissertations and describe them effectively in a mere paragraph. This has had an enormous impact in streamlining the flow of information and making ideas easier to discover. However, with all that Twitter has done, there are major flaws that are undeniably improved upon by G+.
Circles are not just a gimmick
My main issue with Twitter has always been that I can not choose who I shared information with. If I have a hilarious picture that I want to share with my friends, I probably will not put it on Twitter since I am connected with people who might not appreciate humor as sophisticated as mine.
G+ allows me to sort my contacts the way I want to communicate with them. Much like in real life, we communicate with different people in different ways. Close friends will want to see Mr.T riding a dog. Bosses, not so much. Likewise, I’m a pretty big tech geek so where should I post all my geeky articles? Well I could post them on facebook and have my highschool and college buddies wonder why I’m not linking to something on college humor. I could post them on Twitter where I run into the same problem, with the addition of having it lost amongst the clutter. Or I could post it on Google+, where I simply click the circle labeled “tech geeks” and have people, who will find my content relevant, start a discussion. (As a side note, yes I have a circle labeled “tech geeks” and if you are reading this you probably are in there.) Being that posts in G+ is akin to facebooks commenting structure, people can see the context of the conversation and easily react and connect with one another. This is something that is sorely missing from a twitter experience. In Twitter, if someone Tweets a cool story people re-tweet it to all of their followers. This is an excellent way for a story to quickly circulate the Internet, while giving credit to the original poster. It looks something like this:
However, with G+, if you share an amazing story, other people comment on that story and thus can connect with one another. It looks something like this:
So which model do you prefer? The first promotes a streamlined communication to the masses, the second promotes a community. I personally prefer the latter. Granted, re-tweeting is an excellent way to amass new followers, but it certainly does not promote any kind of interaction betwixt them.
So what does G+ mean for everyone else?
Anyone who thinks that Google is interested in being the only game in town is mistaken. Google just wants to be the largest game in town and with all intents to be the most important. Not to continue beating the drum about circles, but as more apps and networks integrate with it, it really does fit perfectly with them. Share your artsy Instagram photos with people who are into that kind of thing. People complain that your check-ins on foursquare keep popping up on their Twitter and facebook feeds? Have only the people who care about your favorite hangouts see. While these apps/ networks currently do not integrate with G+ in this way, if done correctly, it could solve a lot of issues that people have as they tie their various social networks together.
And finally, should LinkedIn be worried?
I have found it interesting that no one has really mentioned that G+ has the capability of edging out LinkedIn. Mind you. I am not saying that this will really happen. I think that having a specialized social network purely for business is amazing and necessary. However, it is worth noting that the threat is there. LinkedIn’s main advantage over facebook is that you would never connect with people you know in a business setting on facebook simply because you do not want your boss or potential client to see ridiculous photos of you. However, with G+, you can put all your business contacts in one circle where you only ever post business articles and share pictures of your family… in ties.
Ultimately I think that LinkedIn’s business oriented focus will differentiate it enough to do just fine in the face of competition from G+ and most other social networks. Does Twitter possess the same immunity? Only Time will tell.
So where is everyone?
The main issue that G+ will encounter in the months/years to come will be migrating everyone from facebook/Twitter into their network. As it is now, it seems more than a little lonely. The whole point of social networks is to be… you know, social. In other words, as people begin testing out the “emerald sea” they will quickly leave the water if there is no one to swim with. While most users seem to like the look and feel of G+ better (especially after facebook’s recent terrible terrible stream of updates), ultimately they will use the service where all their friends are.
Don’t forget me!
Personally, I welcome our Google overlords. Hopefully they remember my simple subservience when they inevitably own the Internets.