Google+ has Arrived.. but is it the Future?

Google Plus Has Cautiously Burst Onto The Social Media Scene – But Will Users Be Impressed After The Drum Roll Ends? 

Written by Guest Blogger Rob Edwards

Google Wave arrived on shores quickly and receded back into the sea of failed initiatives just as fast. Google Buzz hung in the air for a little longer, but was ultimately swatted away by users due to privacy concerns. Now, the search engine giant has unleashed their latest and most promising social media platform to date.  But will it be enough to usurp the all-seeing and all-knowing Facebook as the reigning social media king? Let’s take a closer look at today’s challenger; Google Plus.

In bringing Plus to market slowly and incrementally, Google has already created anticipation amongst those who have not yet been invited to join this embryonic project. For users who have already been allowed in to this hot new club by its billionaire bouncer, the early signs look promising.

Plus Puts Privacy and Control Front and Center

Google Plus certainly surpasses Facebook’s core functionality in two key areas – privacy and control. Through the utilization of “Circles” Google has met the online user’s wish to separate their online lives. Instead of having one constant flow of information, Circles allows the user to group contacts together, providing neat parallel universes online in which the user can play out numerous roles as a colleague, a friend or a sibling. And using the Plus drag and drop system to seamlessly move contacts into those unique Circles makes Facebook’s dropdown menu’s seem quite outdated.

By putting contacts into separate groups, users can then control the flow of their personal data – a function that Facebook has been noticeably reticent to provide directly to the user, probably because their entire business model depends upon the open flow of user information to advertisers.

Where once Facebook offered a great, simplistic escape from MySpace profiles replete with insufferable music, it has now become a cluttered landscape filled with third-party application invites and corporate sponsored news updates. And this is why Google Plus, with its crisp, clean, simplistic user interface, is being regarded as Social Media’s next big thing by industry insiders.

But are they missing the bigger picture?

A Window into the Future of Social Media?

To call Google Plus a social media tool though is something of a misnomer. Google  modeled their previous efforts in the social media realm – Buzz and Wave – on solutions offered by the competition, hoping that their brand name would carry enough cache to help provide them with market penetration. Whereas Plus is an integration product that compiles the micro-blogging aspect of Twitter (Circles), video conference capability of Skype (Hangouts) and the update style of Facebook (Streams) and blends it seamlessly alongside Google’s more successful products such as Picasa and Blogger.

This integration seems to not only mark a new evolution in social media but a different direction for Google as an organization. Indeed, just this week, the company announced that they’re changing the brand names of Picasa and Blogger to Google Photos and Google Blogs. It’s quite obvious as to where Google sees the future: product integration – a one stop destination where users will email, update, chat and collaborate. Instead of competing with Facebook directly, they’re hoping  to create a platform that takes the social media industry in a new direction.

While there’s plenty for Mark Zuckerberg not to “like” about this development, Facebook’s domination as a social media platform will surely continue for the foreseeable future. But the entire industry may be changing direction sooner rather than later.