As most of you know, the new social networking site from Google, Google +, went live on a limited basis at the end of last month. Since that time there has been a scramble in social media circles to get invites. But recently, it seems that invite ration has opened up a bit. In fact, according to +Paul Allen, Google+ will be approaching the 18 million mark soon.
But in my mind, the question remains, do we need another social network and will Google+ succeed in the long run?
Google+ certainly has many unique features. The best of which is the "circles" feature. If you are like me (and if you were you'd be a tall, goofy-looking Irish guy), you might categorize your social networks. For example, Facebook is more for friends and family, LinkedIn is more for business and Twitter is more for, well, everyone. With Google+ you categorize people into circles— you can have a friends circle, family circle, business circle, etc. Google+ allow you control over who see your posts, from everyone to a single person. Now, you no longer have to worry about business contacts seeing posts about a party you went to the evening before. This also alleviates the problem of business contacts trying to friend you on Facebook (if you feel uneasy about that). On the one hand, you don't want to ignore a friend request and possibly offend a business acquaintance. Yet, on the other hand, you don't necessarily want clients to have access to the more personal aspects of your life that you might share with family on Facebook. By the way, I'd expect Facebook to steal this "circles" idea very soon.
Whether Google+ will succeed really depends on its user base and how extensively it grows. Very few people have the time to manage another social network. In fact, I'd say most of us have a hard enough time with the Big Three (FB, LinkedIn & Twitter). So Google+ will have to replace something. It does has the horsepower and feature sets to replace all three. But it won't. At least not completely. Inertia is a very strong force. People have already invested their time and energy into the Big Three, so breaking that strangle hold is close to impossible.
And what about that investment in time. You probably already have a slew of pictures and videos on Facebook. You have written and received recommendations on LinkedIn. You've already linked your entire life to Twitter for easy sharing. Are you willing to walk away from that now? I'm sure that LinkedIn and Facebook will not make it easy to transfer data to Google+. In fact, Facebook has already blocked tools that would allow for easy migration to Google+. Moreover, I know there are people (non-tech friends and family members) that have a hard enough time with Facebook and will never switch. And if they don't switch how can I?
Right now there is a lot of buzz about Google+ (not to be confused with Google Buzz). Google fanboys love it, of course. But there was also a lot of buzz about Google Wave (R.I.P.). There was the same accolades on Web sites. There were the same pleas on social media channels asking for invites leading to the inevitable eBay sales. Google+ will probably have more staying power. If nothing else, it's a bit more familiar and intuitive than Google Wave ever was. There are also a lot of cool new features. Of course, nothing so proprietary that Facebook or LinkedIn couldn't steal these ideas.
Personally, I like Google+. I also think that it can help tie all the loose ends of social media into one nice, managable package. But it's ultimate success still comes down to your friends and family.
Will they start using Google+? And if they don't, then do you actually have the time, energy or desire to maintain another social media site?
What do you think? What do you love or hate about Google+?