If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already signed up for Google+ or you’re teetering on the brink. At the very least, you’re probably wondering why you should bother signing up for Google+ at all.
At the moment it seems like most analysts and digital types are being quite mean about Google+ , but whether you like it or not, Google+ will be a ‘success’. This is not a revelation – Google simply has the resources and network to make Google+ work.
Take Google’s staggered roll-out, for example. It wanted to get something out there early to make an initial impact; to say “We’re here in your social space”.
This, of course, led to condemnation and fear that it would be the next Google Buzz: “Nobody’s on it. What’s there to do? I’m going back to Facebook.” But a lot of this attitude and negativity comes down to viewing Google+ as a Facebook competitor. It’s not.
What Google+ is, though, is part of the future of search engine marketing and social search. It’s becoming clearer that instead of taking Facebook head on in Facebook’s domain, Google has created a network that will be an integrated part of Google’s entire ecosystem.
Google started by creating a seemingly ‘stand-alone’ social network. It has now reworked YouTube to focus on social video discovery and social video search. Google+ is not the only network to feature in its recommendation engine – you can add Facebook too.
What’s next? Well, this is only the beginning of these changes. We’ll see similar social integration in Google’s main search offering, Google Docs and even Gmail. This will be the culmination of a mix between improved search and the collaborative principles that underpinned (the sadly failed) Google Wave. With improvements, the extended Google+ integration will make sense. Imagine:
I’m studying history at university. My lecturer or course has a Google+ account and the video is broadcast live as a hangout to a group of students who may not be able to make it to the lecture hall. After the lecture is finished, the hangout will be uploaded to YouTube to share. Students can import it from YouTube into Google Docs as a video document which can then be annotated and shared on Google+ with other members of the class or directly to a mailing list from Google+ by clicking the ‘gmail’ option. We can base a hangout on one of these video documents as an informal seminar.
Soon, Google+ won’t be a choice; It will be a tool we use as naturally as gmail and Google.com. It will change the way we collaborate on, share and discover data. It will help change the way we enjoy information. Don’t think of Google+ as a social network; think of it as part of our social future.