Google’s march into Social Media – Part 2

Last week, we took a first look at Google’s new social media product, Google+. This week, we finish up our grand circle tour and see if the new network is ready for business use, and more importantly, ready to promote your next fundraiser or event.

 

Everyone has an opinion

The heart of any social media product is the ability to share and comment. Google+ takes commenting and makes it the centerpiece of the social experience. Unlike Twitter which really depends on the short nature of the message (140 characters or less), Google+ has chosen to focus on the discussion rather than the message. In theory, this is a great idea, but in practice, there seems to be more than a few bumps in the road. Conversations can quickly build and get out of control on popular topics, with the focus shifting from your original message to the comments themselves. While this open forum style is great for general discussions and problem solving, it makes it hard to keep focus on the original message, which is quickly covered up by group participation. So while Google+ has done an admirable job creating a free flowing conversation system, it still needs additional tools to help find and filter the original content that today is easily lost. This feature is in itself a hot topic on Google+ and it is highly likely that Google will work to improve this feature soon.

 

Privacy Matters

When comparing Google+ to Facebook, the first thing you may notice is that security and privacy settings are all in one place, and pretty easy to use. Facebook has been notoriously bad with their changing privacy rules and feature, and Google has learned from their mistakes as well as their own (anyone remember the flack over Buzz?). One complaint however centers around followers. In the current version of Google+, you may be surprised to see people following you without your having to “approve” them like with Facebook. This puts the burden of managing your “followers” completely on you with no apparent way to prevent them from seeing you in the first place. As Google+ matures, I am sure this will be an area they address, but for now, if you are a heavy Facebook user, this behavior will be confusing and in some cases disconcerting.

 

Plug it in…

At the time this post is being published, Google has yet to release an API for Google+. An API is a set of programmer’s code and guidelines that let third party developers build tools and services for Google+. Today, a handful of Google+ browser extensions (primarily for the Google Chrome browser) exist, but more should come soon, along with a way to share content from other web sites to a Google+ account (something that is possible but not as easy as with Facebook today). Until that time, using Google+ to share auction items or auction sites is not practical. But once the tools are available from Google, we will be evaluating them to determine how we can best implement Google+ into your auction workflow.

 

Conclusions?

Google+ is a promising new social platform that has surprised many with its rapid adoption and popularity. While not necessarily a replacement for Facebook or Twitter, Google+ offers a compelling set of tools for discussing, sharing and keeping in touch with a wide variety of followers, not just friends. Just this past week Google began to roll out Google+ business profiles, something that was missing at initial release. As businesses begin to appear on Google+, we will start to see if the service can improve on Facebook’s business account model. For now, Google+ is still in its infancy as a social network, but given Google’s size and agility, it won’t be long before it is a top destination for check-ins and businesses. While G+ offers many innovative features, it also offers much of the same you experience you will get from Facebook. If you can get an invite (yes, it’s still in field testing), by all means check it out and see for yourself if Google+ has was it takes to move you away from Facebook or Twitter. AuctionAnything will continue to evaluate integration of Google+ with our services and work to bring you the tools to make your next auction successful.

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