By Eve Hemsley
The New York Times recently published an article about Google’s latest attempt in its fight to keep afloat in the social media world. After failed programs, such as Google Buzz and Google Wave, the Google+ project is the company’s solution. In hopes of rivaling Facebook and mastering social networking, Google+ is designed similarly to Facebook’s platform – sharing status updates, links, and photos - with key changes in privacy and sharing.
Google+ is meant for sharing with groups. Users will start by selecting people they know from their Gmail contacts and then dragging and dropping those names into designated groups or circles such as “book club” or “soccer team.” They can then choose to share information with select groups or all of their friends.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ users do not have to agree to be friends with one another. They can receive updates from others without sharing their own information. Other features differentiating the two includes Google+’s group video chats and text messaging, a section called Sparks where users can see/post articles and videos from across the web, and their mobile application which automatically uploads pictures and videos to a private album, making them available to post immediately.
After learning from the mistakes of their previous attempts, Google+ creators realized how much people care about the information they share; they tried to eliminate the social awkwardness of things like friend requests of oversharing. “In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world,” said Bradley Horowitz, a Vice President for Product Management at Google. “We have a different model.”
Google’s interest in garnering a spot in the social media world goes beyond creating a program to benefit the users. Sites like Facebook are generally off-limits to most search engines, so when people post Google loses valuable information that they could use to shape their Web search. Google is currently the most popular entry point to the web, a status which they are in danger of losing if users continue the trend of seeking answers to their questions via Facebook and Twitter.
Google has often been criticized for falling behind the times and not comprehending the importance of social media sites until others, like Facebook and Twitter, had already jumped ahead. Whether or not Google+ will cause Facebook users to stray, or even catch the attention of those still weary of Facebook, is debatable but Google is trying its best to make up for lost time.
Eve Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Eve@MaroonPR.com.