Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting for that "plus" part...

I take it for granted that everyone has heard of Google+ by now. Such is life when you work in PR and many of your friends are involved in some capacity with social media from a business standpoint. But if, not... Google just reinvented Facebook.

There. You are up to speed.

All week, my Twitter stream has been filled with Google+ tutorials. Analysis. Predictions.

I'm trying to discern what is helpful and what is someone trying to land a new contract for freelance social media counseling.

The truth is, no one knows if Google+ is the next Facebook or the next Google flame-out. And anyone who tells you it's going to replace Facebook? Ask them why.

The thing about social media is that we users still control it. If Google+ makes it, we, the users, get the lion's share of credit. Sure, Google could entice us all with amazing features, but a social media channel is only as good as the users it carries. You probably stopped using MySpace for a number of reasons, but chief among them was probably the fact that, while you may have enjoyed Facebook more, your friends were using Facebook more.

So, I will make no predictions. I will say that, despite the fanfare and countless "social media experts" touting this and that... I'm not buying it all just yet. In terms of functionality, Google+ makes sense, sure. The "circles" idea is a good one, but I'll be stunned if by September Facebook hasn't adopted that style wholesale and likely improved it. You like Google+ video chat? Have you not been using Skype?

Many people are saying they like building a new social network from scratch, finally feeling they are free from FarmVille updates and annoying narcissism from Facebook acquaintances. To those folks... do you know about the "Hide" option? If so, are you afraid to use it?

I'm likely going to post this blog entry on Facebook because I post links there. But not on Google+ because I do not want to update multiple pages at once.

Maybe it will change when more of my friends are on Google+, but so far... I think it's kinda bland. You want a Google+ invite? You let me know. I've got them. And I am not feeling any odd tug to quickly get all my friends on board. I think that's because, for now at least, they're all on Facebook and plenty active there.

After some tinkering today, though, I had a thought. And the people at Google are smarter than me, so maybe they've already thought of this.

On my Blackberry (I know, but really it works. Really well.), I use an app called SocialScope. It's pretty brilliant. It aggregates my Twitter and Facebook feeds into one, but it has full functionality on top of that. I can look at your Facebook profile on SocialScope. I can view photo albums. I can comment, like, retweet and whatever my little heart out. Hell, I can add you as a Facebook friend on SocialScope. The whole thing. I'm sure SocialScope will add Google+ in an upcoming update.

But... what if Google+ decided it didn't need to be its own social network, but an aggregator of all of them? I know, I know... FriendFeed tried that. And it stunk. You know what FriendFeed wasn't? A Google product.

The truth is, I like my Facebook profile. And I have carefully built it and broken up my friends just-so... I can control who sees what. I have my photos and everything. It's great. I don't want to do it again.

I like my Twitter profile, people I follow, etc. I don't want to have another stream to check.

My LinkedIn (your new #2 social network) profile? Also lovely. And also built just-so.

What I don't have is a web site that aggregates it all with full functionality. Where I can, in one view, see everything in all my networks. Comment, like, +1, retweet, recommend... the works. The funny thing? If Google+ did that, it's all I'd use most days. And, yes, then it would be convenient having my Gmail account right there. And Google Maps. And all those nifty things.

But until then - or until all my friends flee Facebook - Google+ is just going to be a site I don't have time for, I fear.

Google cannot give me more minutes in my day. Like you, I have precious few to give to a social network that does everything that my other social network - the one I've put three years of photos and privacy settings into - does not only well, but pretty brilliantly.

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