I’ve been deeply immersed in Google+
for the last week or so, not only following what’s being said about the service but actually using it—kicking the tires and making observations along the way.
For what it’s worth, I think Google+ has an incredible amount of potential for a number of reasons. Here are a few thoughts (or, more accurately, opinions). Everyone has a take, so the only thing I can offer here is that I’ve had these thoughts in my head while using the service but wanted to give it some time before putting it into writing.
1. Google+ isn’t a social network, it’s a social layer.
Google+ looks and feels like a social network, but I don’t think that’s where all of this is going. What Google has been successful in doing is creating the beginnings of what I think will become a social layer across the Google/Web ecosystem.
The brilliance of its strategy is that the experience is good and seems designed for users craving a solution that takes aspects from Twitter and Tumblr, and adds some of the familiarity of Facebook. The result is a promising social experience that lets users broadcast in public or share and connect selectively. If Google can scale and refine what’s making Google+ appealing to early adopters, it will be well on its way to showing the rest of the world what a social layer looks like (and I’m looking forward to watching this unfold).
2. Google+ isn’t a Facebook killer and doesn’t need to be.
The media and pundits will continue to ask the question of Google taking Facebook out. I am fairly confident that average social “consumers” (think your mom or non-industry friends) will not be leaving Facebook any time soon.
However, this doesn’t mean Google+ will not become a significant force in media and other areas. I believe it will because it offers enough compelling connectivity, social features, and content to siphon attention away from multiple networks and communication platforms, including Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Posterous, email, and more.
As my colleague Steve Rubel points out, time and attention are finite
. The more time and attention Google+ gets from users and publishers, the more it takes away from all others. In my opinion, Google+ will take away enough time and attention for other networks to feel its effect and influence.
3. Journalists and public relations professionals will eventually flock to Google+.
Facebook knows that they need to appeal to journalists and media professionals in order to become an even more influential network. Currently, journalists favor Twitter over Facebook due to its real-time and open nature. Google+ combines these aspects of Twitter with a way to organize “sources” and information organically. As media entities begin to incorporate the service into their routines, I believe this is where Facebook will feel Google+ most. I don’t see Facebook being structured as well for things like scanning headlines and leveraging journalists as personalities.
4. Businesses with employee “ambassador” models will activate and deploy them.
Call them community managers, evangelists, or corporate ambassadors, but many business models leverage employees as public agents to educate, engage, and activate advocacy among their customers. Google+ has come out swinging with features such as circles, which make managing multiple groups of connections effective (something Facebook or Twitter doesn’t do well).
For example, a community manager who wants only to communicate or give his or her best content or news away to the most engaged or high value members can customize different content to different groups. Naturally, many company “ambassadors” will organically begin cultivating their network, but the real opportunity lies with a coordinated deployment.
5. Big and small business get a second chance with Google+.
Google+ offers not only users, but business and brands a second chance at getting in while the infrastructure is still being put in place. Though Google has not rolled out brand pages
(or pages for non-human entities), companies of all shapes and sizes that may have fumbled their efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites will have a second chance at setting up their “embassies” on Google+. This will require some planning and a host of lessons drawn from efforts on other networks.
6. Google will bring search and social together.
Nobody knows how exactly, but Google+ is likely going to bring the worlds of search and social even closer together
. Already, they remain linked. For example, the more your content is shared via social media, the better it does in organic search results. However, Google+ itself is not yet searchable (officially), while in other cases Google has offered ways for content producers to attach their identities to search results
. If someone is going to figure out how these two worlds connect more interdependently, it will be Google.
Google+ is no Empire Avenue or Quora—it’s the company’s arguably successful attempt at a social layer, which will likely integrate across other verticals and intersect with search. I think it could be a serious game changer for the reasons I’ve listed in this piece.
Challenges for both individuals and brands will remain: investment, risk, strategy and getting up to speed on this ecosystem in real time. My advice is to get the right people in your organization focused on determining if this space will affect your industry. At minimum, pay close attention to it. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to break new ground—consider investing in all things Google as it weaves its social layer across its considerable ecosystem.
David Armano is executive vice president of innovation and integration at Edelman. A version of this story first appeared on EdelmanDigital.com and on Armano’s blog Logic + Emotion.