Today is my seventh day using Google+. That’s not bragging – I didn’t get an invite until two days after it launched. The horror!
While Circles are exceedingly nice for me personally – I can post publicly, to all of my Circles, or only to the Circles I choose – they’ve solved an issue for businesses that other social media have not. One of our recent pitches to a prospective oncology client called for setting up seven different Facebook and Twitter accounts because the messaging to customers needed to be targeted by cancer type. Followers interested in skin cancer information do not want information about testicular cancer. With Google+ and a little research or follow-up, this client can segment its audience and target them for interaction rather than broadcasting a message, or worse – fragmenting its authority and brand over numerous accounts.
When you follow a Google+ user, the person never knows in which Circle you’ve placed him. And, frankly, why should he? He sees what you want him to see and never knows if you’ve posted additional content to different Circles. Your college friends will love it, but Grandma doesn’t need to see What’s it Gonna Be?
And that brings me to the Google+ “Stream,” which is the equivalent of Facebook’s “Wall.” Because Google+ is integrated with Picassa, YouTube and other Google services, icons are ready for posting videos and photos. Choosing to share with which Circles, or making your posts public, is done right from the share window. And, for folks following lots of others with the resulting busy stream, left hand navigation allows you to see all incoming and outgoing posts, or to view them from just one circle at a time.
Perhaps the most innovative element of Google+ is the “Hangout” feature. It’s not an improvement on other social media – it’s brand new. See it right there in the lower right hand corner? Anybody you invite in your circles can join you in a Hangout … for a live video chat. Multiple people, in a virtual room, who can talk to each other face to face at a moment’s notice. It’s got such game-changing potential that Facebook responded today, sort of. You can now Skype with one of your friends on Facebook. One at a time – which, you know, you could already do without Facebook. Imagine a targeted Hangout for a Circle of customers, where a business can get immediate feedback or offer a special deal – the potential is fantastic.
I haven’t even played around with “Sparks,” yet. Sparks integrates Google News feeds about an area of interest into Google+. It maintains the various feeds under Sparks instead of feeding into your Stream. Right now, the actual news in the feeds is far too broad – stuff comes in from all over the world. I don’t need a remembrance of “Good Will Hunting” from a British site when I choose hunting as an interest. If Google is smart (really, I crack myself up sometimes) it will allow advertisers to target people by the interests they’ve added to their Sparks. It’s a legitimate extension of AdWords, and if policed well, it would be valuable to me to get good, targeted offers from an advertiser.
I think I hit the high points – at least what I’ve gleaned in a week. But let me leave you with a snapshot of my favorite part of my account to this point, the people I don’t know but who I’m following:
Which one of these is not like the other one…