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Will Google+ Be the Next Facebook?

Written by Renee C. Quinn
B.S. Pennsylvania State University
M.B.A. University of Phoenix
Posted: July 17, 2011 @ 1:46 pm
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Google, which is undoubtedly the most popular website in the world seems to constantly be challenging the domination of the second-most popular website, Facebook, which is the world’s largest online social network that currently boasts 750 million users.  For this reason, Google has been trying to create a social platform of it’s own to rival the social media giant, not just once, but now for the fifth time.  First there was Orkut, which was launched one month before Facebook in January of 2004, followed by Jaiku, which was founded in February of 2006, followed next by Wave which was released in September 2009 and is no longer being developed as a stand alone product, followed next by Buzz which was launched in February of 2010.  But Google has not given up and last month unveiled its Google+ program as the newest attempt to trump Facebook’s popularity. 

No one really knows how many people are using Google+ as of this moment, but many estimate it to be in the range of tens of  million of members. That is largely because Google+ is in a limited field trial mode and as such has not yet hit the mainstream.



In fact not everyone can join Google+ as of yet.  In order to join, you must be invited by someone who is already a current member and even still that does not guarantee they will be able to sign up for the current version.  Lucky for me, I was invited by my college-aged sister and so am able to get a first hand peak.

At first glance, Google+ looks to be a clone of the ever-popular Facebook.  There is a Posts stream, much like the Facebook wall, where you can post your thoughts, news, videos, photos, links and so on and share them with your connections. Unlike Facebook, however, your friends cannot write on your profile.  They do have the ability to communicate on things that you have posted, although you do have the ability to determine what each individual can see.  There is an About tab much like the info tab on Facebook, Photos and Videos tabs like Facebook, a +1’s tab, which mimics the “Like” button on Facebook and a buzz tab.

But what sets Google+ apart from Facebook, and may be just what the doctor ordered in regards to finally being able to compete with the social media giant is what Google+ calls “Circles” which represents the different social circles of people within our lives.    Similar to lists on Facebook, but with greater functionality, you have the ability to sort your friends into multiple different customizable “circles” (categories or groups) that represents the unique relationships you have with each of the people in your life.  Google describes this as “Real-life sharing, rethought for the web.”  Unlike Facebook, where everything you post is seen by every one of your “Friends,” Google+ feels that since you share different things with different people in real life, you should also have that ability online.

Google+ starts you off with 4 empty Circles they have titled as Friends, Acquaintances, Family and Following (For those you don’t know but want to follow you anyway).  You can either keep these Circles as they are or rename them and add others to the list.  They can either be teeny, tiny circles such as “grandparents” or great big Circles such as (for me anyway) “Family Tree.”  It’s simple to add people to each circle.  When you click on the Circles link on the top of your profile, a gallery of your friends will populate, you then simply drag and drop one or more of your friends into the different Circles you want them to be in.  You can even put people into multiple Circles if you’d like.

Once you’ve created your Circles and designated whom to put in each, you then have the ability to specify exactly which Circles get to see what you share.   No longer do your have to worry about surprise parties being read by the guest of honor, your business colleagues seeing your crazy cousin’s rants, or potential customers seeing what the results of your son’s karate test was.  All of this goes away with Circles, along with the privacy issues that so often plague Facebook.  Not to mention, you removes a lot of clutter by sparing those of your friends from seeing news that is obviously of no interest to them.

In addition to Circles, Google+ also offers additional features including Hangouts, Sparks, Photo Sharing and Instant Upload, Huddle, The +1 Button and Stream.



Hangouts

Hangouts, as Google calls it, is another feature that Google+ has incorporated into its social media platform.  Much like Skype, with a downloaded plugin, a web cam and a microphone, Hangouts allows you to video chat with your friends with one major difference.  With Hangouts you can video chat with up to 10 of your friends at the same time.  This gives you the opportunity to bump into friends unexpectedly while you are out and about, only online.  Hangouts can also be used if you have a group project to do, you are miles away from family and friends or you want to simply meet a group of friends for coffee but cannot get away.

Sparks

Sparks gives Google+ members the capability to see news and stories about topics that are of interest to you.  When you first go into sparks, you can either choose from the featured list of interests or search for other topics that interest you.  Once you find that topics that interest you, you can add it as an interest.  The topic will then show up in a list under “Sparks” on the left hand side of your profile.

Photo Sharing and Instant Upload

Google+ gives you several ways to upload and share your photos.  You can create a new post from the stream or the Google+ bar, you can upload photos from your Google+ Photos home page or from the Photos tab on your Google profile and you can share photos directly from your mobile device.  But what is especially nice is that you can instantly share photos and videos from your mobile device without having to plug in any cables connect your device to a computer.   You may be thinking, well I can do that in Facebook.  But what makes this feature different, more private and in my humble opinion better is the fact that the photos and videos you upload are sent to a private album on your Google+ profile under the “Photos from your phone” section that no one can see unless and until you specifically choose the people you share them with.

Huddle

Texting is great, but not when you’re trying to get six different people to decide on the location of your best friend’s bridal shower. Huddle is an application you can download to your mobile device that turn all those different conversations into one simple group chat.  This allows everyone to see what you have to say without having to text it to 6 different people at the same time. Those 6 people in turn can respond to the whole group at the same time as well.

The +1 Button

Similar to the “Like” button in Facebook, you can use the +1 publically display what you like, agree with or even recommend on the Internet.  The +1 button can appear both on Google and on sites across the Internet in a variety of places.  When you +1 something, whether on Google or on another site, the icon will turn blue and the item will appear on your profile under the +1’s tab.  The good thing is that unlike the “Like” button, that when clicked shows up on your profile page for all of your “Friends” to see, when you click the +1 it is visible publically to others who are viewing the information you +1’d and you can control the visibility of the +1 tab on your profile.  Again, if I +1 information on my political affiliation, I do not have to worry about clients, customers or potential employees seeing what I like unless they are looking at the same thing.

Stream

Again, much like the wall of a user on Facebook, the Stream is where all of the information you share with others or that others share with you is centralized.  The difference however is that what ever you post is seen in the streams of only those people you designate to see each post.  Meaning, if I want to post how much I love my husband, I don’t have to worry about my newest client, or his newest client for that matter, seeing it.

So the question now is, will Google+ last and if so will it be able to compete with Facebook?  Only time will tell, but I am interested in finding out.  Thanks to my little sister, I can explore Google+ first hand.  Hopefully you too will get an invitation to try it out as well.

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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Google, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Renee Quinn, Social Media, Social Networking

About the Author

Renee C. Quinn acquired a Masters of Business Administration with her course work focusing on e-Commerce and e-Business, with an emphasis on marketing via the World Wide Web. Her particular career focus to date has been on business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing. She writes on various business and social media topics for IPWatchdog.com. You can follow Renee on Twitter at IPWatchdog_Too. Renee is available to consult with individuals and businesses on how to set up and effectively use social media and social networking tools to establish a successful marketing campaign. You can contact Renee via e-mail.

35 comments
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  1. they already told that they have got 10 million members couple days ago. follow the news before you try to create your own with missing information.

  2. I think it is a little misleading to describe Buzz as a separate attempt. Buzz was just a precursor to Google+. It’s actually a visible part of Google+. The same goes for the chat feature that has been part of Gmail. These were just steppingstones to building the bigger project.

    So many people want to label Google’s previously visible pieces as failed social networking attempts. That’s near-sighted. The big picture is that these were pieces. Wave, on the other hand, was a wholly different thing — something entirely different. It was less a failed attempt at something in particular than it was merely an experiment that required the public to take part in it.

  3. I doubt… google+ is more like combination of fb twitter n some what of linkedin…It can be as big as fb bt can’t replace it :-)

  4. solid outline of what the product does – though it’s like you didnt even do any research before writing this. google announced that it had 10 million google+ users at their earning call this week and its also not hard to get in at all anymore. the invite button is always on now and will let anyone in. they were throttling invites before because they werent confident they had devoted enough server space (or some other tech stuff that i am would prolly phrase incorrecly anyway)

  5. anybody ever read r see
    Playwright Larry Myers’ stage work
    “Facebook Puberty”?
    all prophesized in that!

  6. Over the next few years as competition heats up among social networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Content, features, and services will be important but the two most important deciding factors will be Privacy, and the sharing of Ad Revenue.

    Privacy regardless of social and/or information is not as protected as most people think on social networking sites such as Google+ & Facebook.  If you have an email address or real name, there are companies today who are able to track this information.  Most search engines that crawl these sites are able to atleast get Jane Doe’s User Name.  

    Both Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin have excellent privacy settings, and different ways to protect it’s users privacy, but both fail to address the real issues at hand.  

    The real issues most people have today about privacy is the amount of information these sites are collecting about its users, the way this information is being collected, and how this information is being used.  

    One thing that social networking sites today don’t want to tell you, is that any site can be hacked!  The only way for sites to combat this problem is to not ask it’s users to provide their real names, and email addresses.

    As to the sharing of Ad Revenue, there is only one site today that allows it’s users to place their own Ads on both personal & business profiles.

    ONLYMEWORLD is less the 20% complete, and may not be as savvy as some of the other social networking sites, but early on seem to realize that Privacy and the sharing of Ad Revenue is paramount to both longevity & success in the industry. Their platform is similiar to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Linkedin, yet differ because of their willingness to protect it’s users privacy, and the sharing of ad revenue. The best part…It’s Absolutely Free!

  7. The social network is dead, long live the social network.

  8. To the geniuses who commented that days ago Google announced they have 10 million users, how many users do they have presently? If you have any issue with the article saying the number of users is unknown at this moment then please educate us on exactly how many users Google+ has at this moment.

    Really! Do you just try and find things to complain about?

  9. First of all, thank you to all of you who have read my article and taken the time to comment. Now I would like to comment to each of those comments above.

    b-
    The research I did for this article was thorough. I did not see any press releases or anything specifically put out by Google when I wrote the article. There are many websites that say no one knows and several that say 10 million. I could just as easily report that “Google+ Has Hit 50 million users.” and inevitably someone else will report the same thing because I wrote it, and another will report it because someone else did. Just because it is on the Internet does not mean it is true. I did not want to report incorrect information. So I said it was estimated…

    sg-
    How do you know that Buzz was a precursor to Google+? Do you work for Google? The information I put in my article came directly from Google’s own descriptions. Even if it were a precursor to it, then my statement that they have not given up would be correct. They are growing and evolving. There is nothing wrong with my pointing that I.

    aditya,

    I agree, even if Google+ gets as big as Facebook, it may not replace it. But my description and comparison of Google+ to FB was correct. I simply made observations and said “At first glance…” But then went on to say how it was different and even better in some respects.

    ethan,

    I have a screen shot of the google+ website that shows you can log in, but it does not have a “Join here” link any where. The paragraph in red above titled – An important note about Field Trial, was taken directly from the Google+ website when I joined a few days ago. If it has changed since then, I am not aware of that. But to say I did not do my research is an untrue statement.

    -Renee

  10. Happy Sunday, Gene and Renee.

    Sorry to see again what happens when you post very worthwhile; but not strictly IP-related; articles . . . the nameless, faceless complainers and accusers come out of the wordwork . . .

    I suspected as much when I saw 9 comments on a Sun afternoon posting. ;-)

    Thanks for the good information; appreciate all your great work.

    Steve

  11. Thanks Steve! I hope all is well with you.

    Thanks for reading even the non-IP stuff.

    -Gene

  12. I can’t wait to try out Google +.

  13. Steve,

    Thank you so much for your comment. Gene and I were just talking about this very thing. My articles always seem to get similar comments. And it always steaks me as odd how those throwing the biggest flames NEVER use their real names. I don’t know why so many people look to discredit us. If they don’t like what we write then why are they reading? Anyway, thank you for reading my articles and for taking the time to give us positive feedback. We appreciate all of you who read us!

    Renée

  14. Renée,

    I’ve never had a single account with any of the social networks. So I couldn’t say too much then, because what I know about them is only from others with accounts. The point is I have never found them to be important enough to offer my information, that often as I understand, is for sale on some social networks. Google will never have me !

    I enjoy reading your articles as this one, and Renée, I find your work clear and with a direction to a point. Every writer makes choices about the approach to what they will write about, and not, that includes “facts” and other information that for whatever reason, I respect those choices. My opinion is only that if and when I give it, and no matter if I agree or not, my real name is of little value. A handle as common as they are, if someone uses that handle with their personal writing style — is as much a real name you’ll get on a public blog. On that point, I came to IPWatchdog using the handle I have all along, and my real name is not a requirement in public places.

    Thanks

  15. New Hire,

    I appreciate your feedback. I have nothing against people using handles, especially with social media and the privacy issues that can be associated with it. What I was referring to was Steve’s comment about the nameless, faceless folks that throw flames at me. It is one thing to use a handle because you want to protect your privacy, but to create a one letter, two letter or fictitious handle just so they can throw flames in not a productive use of time, mine or theirs. It’s easy to hide behind handles, while being a bully. Thank you so much for reading IPWatchdog. I wish you well and appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    Renee

  16. Renee,

    I agree with the important points made.
    Thank you..

  17. You’re sure welcome, Gene & Renee.

    The ability for your readers–including me–to obtain so much great, high-value, and actionable information . . . all in one place . . . and for free; frankly borders on the amazing.

    It is a testament to the kind of people you both are.

    I know I’ve said it before, and I’m only too happy to say it again: Thank you.

    Steve

  18. Steve,

    Your follow up comments are really appreciated! We both are passionate about what we do, Gene on the IP side and me, well, not on the IP side! = ) I love writing about social media, brand building and marketing. It means a lot to us that professionals such as yourself see the passion we have for our specialties! I expect some flame throwing but knowing that people like yourself find what we write to be truly useful, makes it worth it.

    I too am happy to say Thanks again!

    Renée

  19. ps And I’m certain I speak for the large majority of your many readers who feel the same way but choose for whatever reason(s) to not say so.

    I am not alone in the appreciation I feel. :-)

  20. @Steve

    “readers who feel the same way but choose for whatever reason(s) to not say so.”

    I nor anyone need to jump in the pool with you on what seems as some emotional expo. That has nothing to do with what anyone you say “choose for whatever reason(s) to not say so”. We’re all passionate about something and being individuals express ourselves in different ways — regardless of what you believe.

    Thanks.

  21. Gee New Here; if you also wanted to thank Gene and Renee for what they provide here (that is at least in part what you’re doing with your comments, right?), why don’t you just say so.

    And it’s evidently wrong for me to assume that their many, many readers appreciate what they’re doing (else why would they keep coming back–er, um; including you?) . . . than for you to attempt to speak for others with your, “(nor) anyone.”

    This world could do with more “thank yous.”

    You ‘ought to try it.

  22. New-

    You’re not ready to jump in the pool? For goodness sakes haven’t you been outside lately! The temperatures are off the charts high. A dip in the pool might be exactly the thing that is necessary! Oh… and of course a drink of Kool-Aid wouldn’t hurt.

    Seriously, while you might not find it necessary to thank us for what we do, Renee and I do certainly appreciate everyone reading and the many kudos we receive from those who read but choose not to comment.

    Cheers everyone!

    -Gene

  23. @Gene

    “Seriously, while you might not find it necessary to thank us ”

    As for a drink of Kool-Aid wouldn’t hurt, Gene, will you join me ? I’m buying ! And, isn’t this appreciation thing off topic — that I have been reminded of being in the past ?

    Gene any misunderstanding that has been created by my reply to Steve isn’t any show of a lacking of appreciation because I don’t come here with hugs and kisses all the time. That was my point in a nut shell to Steve.

    Gene, I posted on this thread at the start along with Steve, his comment #19:
    “ps And I’m certain I speak for the large majority of your many readers who feel the same way but choose for whatever reason(s) to not say so.”

    No, he doesn’t speak for me ! Nor say how and/or when I show appreciation for anything !

    Don’t wish to be ugly about it, have nothing against Steve, but Steve’s comment #19 should have not included those he doesn’t speak for — because it sets a different focus on the thread I don’t have any appreciation for being included in !

    Thanks Gene.

  24. Boy, New; you spend more time pontificating and getting bent out of shape than it would take you to simply joining with me in thanking Gene & Renee for all that they do for their readers–including you–and the profession . . .

    And actually, New, my statement is factually correct; since:

    #1. If you do appreciate what they do; yet don’t say so, that makes you part of my said “silent thankful majority.”

    #2. Or if you don’t appreciate what they do (then what are you doing here?), than you’re not part of the large majority of which I speak.

    So which one is it?

    My core point is that caring, high-value providing, hard-working bloggers rarely hear the thanks from their readers that they so richly deserve.

    Oh, and I’ve said nothing about, “how and/or when” you show appreciation for anything.

    I’m talking about here only about Gene & Renee and their IPWatchDog.

    Seems like you’re just another person who finds it very difficult to say two simple words:

    Thank you.

  25. New Here-

    If my memory serves me correct, which it does because I checked, you were told to stay on topic when you continually tried to bring in a certain topic that we have discussed thoroughly on other threads. Additionally, you were making provably false statements over and over again. If you had only taken the time to educate yourself on the facts you would have known what you were saying was completely wrong, so it would seem that is quite different. Very different indeed when you consider that you took a back-handed swing at me, Renee and IPWatchdog (not to mention Steve) and then expect me to say nothing. As I have told you MANY times… let’s keep it real!

    As for Steve not speaking for you, I think you need to get a grip. If you don’t want to come with hugs and kisses, as you put it, fine. But gratuitously lashing out at Steve and by necessary implication me and Renee seems uncalled for and curious. Steve offered appreciation and you chose to act like a bully and rain on something kind and genuine. Speaks volumes about YOU if you ask me.

    -Gene

  26. Guys,

    Why don’t I settle this! IPWatchdog is AWESOME! And so is the newest division of IPWatchdog, Inc, which can be found at http://ReneeQuinn.com. PERIOD! Geez a whiz! Men! Women should rule the world! He he

    OK that was fun! New Hire, I don’t think Steve meant his comment in the way you took it. You’re mentioning this being off topic is true, but I do I believe you are the one who took it there. My article was well written and well received and now the last 7 comments were devoted to your insecurities? So what if Steve is having an emotional expo with IPWatchdog and you do not concur. You obviously come back again and again for some reason. Steve was just being kind by letting us know that not everyone feels the same negativity that several of the first commenters feel and felt the need to point out.

    Steve was clear in saying “I’m certain I speak for the large majority of your many readers who feel the same way” that he was specifically referring to the many readers that feel the same way he does and NOT those who don’t. You really took it way too personal. Why you felt the need to turn his kind gesture into a negative thing is beyond me really. Gene and I ask nothing in return for what we give to our readers and respective industries. So the occasional show of an emotional expo as you put it is appreciated. I don’t speak out much in this forum, but could not stand idly by. New Hire, Did you REALLY have to try and burst our bubble?

    Renee

  27. Steve,

    Once again Steve, THANK YOU for appreciating us. It is for folks like you (even the silent ones) that we continue to do what we do!

    Renee

  28. @Gene

    “[...] Very different indeed when you consider that you took a back-handed swing at me, Renee and IPWatchdog (not to mention Steve) and then expect me to say nothing. [...]”

    No Gene, and don’t call me a bully. Your opinion of me is nothing new, and to tell you the truth as I always have, I couldn’t care less about it. Not when you’ve made it a point to be ugly with me, over your objections to me and/or my opinions. Well, so be it Gene, and the truth is I don’t care to be included into something by having anyone speak for me I don’t know. No post of mind in this thread included me into this matter and I have put some distance between myself and it in comment #23. Your interpretation of #23 is wrong.

    My appreciation, how and when I show it, is not pending, as I express it when I wish to for whatever reason(s) I choose to.

    Thanks.

  29. @Renee

    I had to think hard about the decision to make this reply, and I do so out of respect for you.
    You and Steve had a meaningful exchange and I didn’t say a word. Replies starting with #14 thru #16, you and I had meaningful exchange, taking as it went I believe.

    I would have ended my comments with #16, as you did make some important points about what we were talking about in your comment #15, that I couldn’t see any more I could add.

    For #19, I’m a reader here too, I can’t speak for the others, and Renee not taking it too personal, but it does include me and so, I feel very strong about speaking up on something that directly or not involves me. It is not, nor has it been my intent to deny or otherwise argue someone’s expressing what they wish to — that has nothing to do with me — that I shouldn’t be included in something I may not wish to express the same way. This is part of being an individual — that I do take very personal.

    Thank you Renee.
    I will end my comments on this thread here.

  30. Boy, New; and still no thank you.

    Thanks Gene & Renee.

  31. New-

    You are a lost cause. Goodbye.

    -Gene

  32. New Here-

    “that I shouldn’t be included in something I may not wish to express the same way”

    You were not included. You asserted yourself into this situation and took gratuitous digs. That won’t be happening any more though moving forward.

    -Gene

  33. Gene: Thanks for liberating us from New Here. I can’t believe I read through all those comments–must be the easy feeling that comes with the Sunday morning java. I enjoy your blog and find myself reading and sharing your posts frequently although IP isn’t a core interest or competency of mine.

    Renee: I enjoyed the post and found it informative, especially as I’m just acquainting myself with G+ and also wondering what its place will be in my future social media efforts.

    Brian

    PS I enthusiastically agree with Steve’s comment #17.

  34. Thanks Brian! I appreciate you reading and sharing. It is also nice of you to take the time to leave this comment.

    Cheers!

    -Gene

  35. Brian,

    Thank you for reading through the comments and leaving one yourself. What bothered me most was that New Hire took the focus away from my article and put it on this petty argument. We do what we do for readers such as yourself but not for ego boosts as NH seemed to think. Thank you for reading and following IPWatchdog. If you have a few minutes, feel free to check out my other website at http://www.ReneeQuinn.com. Would love to know what you think.

    Renée