Watch out, Facebook: There’s a new time-consuming, productivity-inhibiting social media site in town. Whether you’re on the site or refusing to join, you’ve at least heard of Google+. There’s been a lot of debate over whether Google+ will last, even within my own department. After taking an informal poll, I realized there’s a wide range of opinions about the future of Google’s new social media network. I’ve heard everything from “I’m boycotting” and “Google needs to stick to what it’s good at: Being Google” to a few people saying they’d switch to Google+ and dump Facebook if enough of their friends moved over.
While I’m no Google+ pro, there are some definite selling points to a new social media platform, especially one affiliated with a behemoth organization like Google. The biggest advantage is a fresh start. For people my age who are now a few years out of college but have the same Facebook account they did while they were in school — my profile spans from when I was 18 to now — it is so much easier to start anew on Google+ by placing people into predefined circles instead of categorizing hundreds of friends into groups you have to create.
Quite frankly, I don’t want to go through my 700-plus friens and break people down into groups. I’m to the point where I’m more likely to unfriend a person than create a group to place them in. My profile contains photos and wall posts from when I was in college that seemed appropriate for a 21-year-old to post but now might not be so appropriate for coworkers. (Get your mind out of the gutter, people. I’m sure most of you are thankful Facebook wasn’t around while you were in college.)
Another complaint I’ve heard is that Google+ is very limited in its capabilities. Does anyone remember what early Facebook profiles were? There were no status updates and no photo sharing capabilities. Facebook walls were rarely used, and Facebook was only for personal use (read: no business or fan pages, ads or official celebrity pages). There were also no obnoxious games or app requests. (For the last time, Girl From My High School Who Has Too Much Time On Her Hands: NO, I don’t want to help you on Farmville.)
Google+ hasn’t even been available for two months and is still in the “Invite only” stage, yet it has more than 18 million users. Eighteen million! Ben Parr, editor-at-large for Mashable, recently posted on his Google+ page that more than 22,000 people have him in their Google+ circles, and it took him years to get to that many followers on Twitter. While this is probably a little skewed because the people who follow him are likely to also be some of the first to sign up for Google+, it demonstrates the growth potential Google+ has. And as it continues to grow, it will add more features and options.
With all that being said, there are some limitations to the network. TechRepublic recently wrote an article outlining features Google+ is still missing, and I agree with most of them. Yes, I would like the option of sending someone a private message through Google+ instead of having to send them something through email, but I can live without it – for now. Also, verified accounts would be a great new feature, but it isn’t necessary at this juncture.
Overall, Google+ can continue to grow its social media market share if it continues to roll out new features and abilities over the next few months, which it likely will. I may be standing on a limb compared to my coworkers in the marketing department, but once Google+ opens registration for everyone instead of sticking to the invite-only system, I don’t see any reason why Google+ can’t reach 50 million users by the end of the year, if not sooner. There. I said it.
What do you think of Google+’s potential? Will it leave Mark Zuckerberg shaking in his hoodie?