It’s Godzilla vs Mothra. It’s the Thrilla in Manilla. It’s Obi Won vs Darth Vader.
Or, it isn’t.
The blogosphere is screaming itself breathless about the beta launch of Google+. Everyone is making predictions on how it is great for business…or it isn’t. How Google+ will topple Facebook…or it won’t. How this is the next great evolution of Social Media…or its not.
We all know what opinions are like…and we all have them. What can we reasonably expect from Google+ in the coming months?
1. Google has the money to create a huge level of awareness for this new product. They can – and likely will – integrate it into everything they already own. This will dominate the Social Media discussion for weeks and months.
2. We have no idea when this integration will happen. Nor do we know how effectively and reflexively this integration will work. We do know there is enormous potential here.
3. Android could be the key. If Google+ becomes easier to use on your smart phone than Facebook or Twitter it could become a game changer. Unless it isn’t.
4. Whether Google+ is better or easier than Facebook does not matter at this point. What does matter is that it is different. This is a double-edged sword. The young, tech-savvy crowd will flock to it because Google+ will be the latest shiny object. The older demographics will adopt a wait-and-see attitude. No sense moving to a new neighborhood if you don’t know any of the neighbors.
5. Will Google+ replace Facebook or will it be yet another competitor? This will take time to unfold. It took Facebook six years to get to 750 million people. While the adoption curve is much smaller now, we won’t have a real read on Google+ for quite a while. Let me re-phrase that. We will know rather quickly if this is another failed social platform. How successful it might become will be determined if Google+ survives the incubation stage.
6. What is the business strategy? Will Google+ successfully integrate Places and Sites? You can be sure that will be a target area but you don’t know when that will occur. Or what it will look like. Or, how it will work. Google knows but they ain’t sayin’ – yet.
7. Privacy is the key issue. Actually, it isn’t. For all the hue and cry about Facebook’s privacy issues most people don’t really pay attention. If privacy was such a concern people like Gilbert Gottfried and Rep. Wiener would still be working (I know, that was Twitter). The point is – most people post what they want, when they want. Until Facebook becomes truly intrusive with how they sell your data – most people don’t really care.
8. Do you have the time for another social network? Many will and many won’t. How many of each is a complete conjecture. I would venture to say even Google isn’t sure about this.
9. The war will get ugly. Already, Facebook is preventing Google+ users from importing their friends from Facebook. These two giants are going to conduct the pissing match of the century. If nothing else, it will be fun to watch.
10. Because of the buzz (oops) around the launch most of us will take a test drive once we get invited. Google is creating anticipation by all the hype and that guarantees a rush once the doors are open.
11. Finally – expect bugs. Stuff won’t work the way it should. Early adopters will complain and suggest changes. What Google+ is today is not what it will be in six months.
For the moment, just move along – there is nothing to see here. If you are one of those people who absolutely, positively must test drive the latest tech creation the moment it leaves the box – dive into Google+ and have at it. On the other hand, if you’re the type who can wait until the kinks are worked out and there is enough “there” there – sit tight. Google+ won’t disappear before you have a chance to ride it. (And, if for some reason it does – think of all the time you saved.)
The only thing certain about Google+ is that everyone has an opinion and they are all right…unless they aren’t.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist