On June 28th 2011, Google released Google +, Google’s social platform- turning the search giant into an all-encompassing social network. Google +, which is 12 months in the making, is still in beta mode with only a selection of invites being issued so far.
There are currently 6 elements to Google + which include:
Google+ Circles: This is essentially a friends list which allows users to drag and drop into ‘categories’ ie Friends, Family, Work Friends Users cannot see which circle they’ve been added to, or what another users circles are.
Google+ Spark: Content sharing platform & ‘discovery’ engine- this relies on information from Google Search and Google +1 & allows users to easily search and share content.
Google+ Hangout: Video chat with ‘buddies’ or entire circles. Allows you to join circles and also view Youtube videos together
Google+ Instant Upload: Automatically uploads images and videos from your mobile to a private album with the option of sharing.
Google+ Huddle: Allows you to text individuals or groups.
Stream: Similar to Facebook news feed, user’s share and see what friends are sharing.
Google + launched, and immediately Google Realtime ended.
The Google/Twitter agreement expired after 2 years, meaning Google are not currently including Twitter feeds into their listings.
Google Realtime search (displaying twitter and facebook listings) came down altogether as Google are ‘exploring how to incorporate our recently launched Google+’.
Starcom POV & Recommendations
Google’s first true venture into social is in no doubt direct competition to Facebook as the two online giants compete for audience and page views.
The question is, are consumer’s interested in another social platform and will this hit critical mass? There is no doubt that Google+ is very slick, like most of Google’s products it is intuitive and has some great features which make it both easy to use and share. However, privacy may be a concern with automatic upload and ‘add’ features which are unlikely to sit well with all.
Users so far rate the most appealing feature as circles allowing them to easily segment their contacts, and ‘share’ only with those relevant to the content. We can see this encouraging greater interaction with business colleagues, extending usage beyond friends.
Does it provide enough enticement to warrant using both a Google+ and Facebook account? Not yet from what we can tell, although it’s too early to call while Google continue to innovate.
The biggest impact for advertiser’s at this stage will occur within organic rankings. Google will continue to use social signals in their ranking algorithm so expect to see Google+ having an impact. For advertiser’s who have been optimising Twitter feeds & finding success in tweets ranking organically, the impact of a change in Realtime search could be substantial and lead to a new direction in social search.
Starcom recommend advertiser’s add the +1 code to their websites. If Google+ takes off, then advertiser’s will need to encourage user’s to +1 their content, as they do ‘like’. So, without a Google & Facebook partnership in sight, this small button could indeed be important.
Written by Sally Phelps, Search Director – Starcom MediaVest Group.