4 Reasons Google+ Will Be The Next Big Thing (and 1 Reason it Won't)

Is This The Future?

Google+ (Google Plus) could be huge. I know, because I’ve seen it, and it’s convinced me.

I’ve seen social networks come and go. I spent my A-Levels talking to friends on Faceparty (before it was a swinging website), my degree faffing on MySpace (the gifs!) and my first job surreptitiously updating my Facebook  status (Andy is working).

I’ve Tweeted, Waved, Buzzed and Meme’d.

So I’ve seen what makes a successful social networking site, and what makes an abject failure.

And I think Google+ definitely has the makings of the next big thing.

Three Reasons That Google Plus Will Be The Next Big Thing

Reason One: It’s Going to Attract Influencers

Well, she influences me...

The problem with social networks like Yahoo Meme is that if a site can’t attract the sort of users that influence opinion, it’s not going to be relevant.

Google Plus isn’t going to have that problem.

When the “closed testing” opened, thousands of people descended on the site and started to make use of their invites – until Google slammed the door shut – and they used them to invite people they followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Anyone who influences opinion on those sites would’ve found themselves bombarded by invitations. And when you get repeated invites, you start to take notice.

The movers and shakers are taking notice of Google+. And where they go, the masses follow.

Reason Two: It’s Going to Influence the Algorithm

For years, Google’s made noises that social factors are going to influence search results more and more. ReTweets and Facebook Likes are already beginning to translate into higher rankings, but it’s Google Plus – specifically the integration with Google +1 that’s going to bring search and social together.

Yes, I’ve changed my tune since calling +1 an uninvited guest, but with the unveiling of Google+, it suddenly makes sense.

Plus One is now integral to Google Plus’ user feeds. Instead of a chore, clicking +1 is now as natural as clicking Like or ReTweeting. And it’s plumbed directly into Google Search’s mains.

Instead of decoding another company’s social signals, Google now needs only to look inwards to see how social popularity should affect search – and that’s going to mean that business owners and marketers are going to be hot on the heels of the influencers when it comes to signing up.

Reason Three: It’s a Genuine Alternative to Facebook

Google Plus is well designed, intuitive and offers a number of features that make it stand out as a genuine contender to Facebook’s crown. The most prominent of these is the “Circles” function.

If you Tweet or post on Facebook, you know that it’s not just your friends that can read. It’s colleagues, clients, employers and family members. So you need to guard your tongue because everything’s being aired in public. By categorising the people in your network and showing only what you want those people to see, Google+ takes away that fear of jamming your foot into your mouth. So is it any wonder that early adopters are waxing lyrical?

Google+ - Not just for "Tech Heads"

But SEO geeks, marketing enthusiasts and social media aren’t enough to make a new network a success. For that you’ll need average users.

Google Inc has access to huge amounts of average users. And by incorporating products such as Picasa that people use already, Google is going to ensnare those users. Especially if Google Plus is being pushed through Google’s huge advertising networks and media presence.

Reason Four: Google Won’t Let It Fail

Google Plus is going to be pushed. No doubt about it.

Google gets a billion hits a month. Gmail and other Google products have hundreds of thousands of users. “Google” was a commonly used verb when Mark Zuckerberg was playing around with TheFacebook.com and Tweeting was just for the birds. The minds behind the world’s leading search engine know what it takes to succeed online.

And everything the company has tested in recent years – from Wave to Plus One, via personalised search and Google Talk has been leading towards this. Google+ is the culmination of a company-wide effort to break into the social market, and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to be pushed. Hard.

So when you have a genuinely well designed site that’s attracting all manner of users, it’s a guaranteed hit, right?

Wrong. There’s still something nagging at the back of my mind, telling me to hedge my bets…

And One Reason Why It’s Going to Crash and Burn

Facebook.

Facebook. It looks ominous as a one word subheading with a very definite full stop. And it should.

The reason Google is untouchable in the search market is the fact that it’s ingrained in the social consciousness. You don’t search, you “Google”.

You don’t use social networks. You use Facebook.

And it’s not just you. Half of the population of the UK is on Facebook. My gran is on Facebook.

Even with the weight of Google Inc. behind it, Plus has a mountain to climb to gain a market share. And once it’s climbed the mountain, it’s going to find Zuckerberg’s angry giant waiting at the top.

That’s going to be one hell of a battle.

So, what do you think? Have you tried Plus One? Does it live up to the hype, or are you heading back to pastures blue? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

17 Comments comments for "4 Reasons Google+ Will Be The Next Big Thing (and 1 Reason it Won’t)"

  1. Well I have to say my initial “first 24hr” impression is very positive. Clean, easy to use, the android app is superb. And the circles is a *really* good idea.

    I’d say the thing is they don’t actually need to beat facebook, any more than Gmail needed to beat Yahoo or Hotmail. They just need to get enough of the market to have some critical mass and for them to have a representative sample from which to extrapolate search results.

    Dont get me wrong I’m sure Google would love “plus” to become the social behomath and dethrone Facebook. But i’ll bet that providing they get 10s of millions of regular users they will be pretty happy all the same.

    And like you said the whole google thing means it will probably win on some levels just by a process of osmosis from people using other google systems. Tell you one you missed in the blog is Android. With Android increasginly becoming the massive superpower of the phone world, and mobile internet use booming if google manage to deeply embed Google Plus into the Android experince then that provides massive growth potential.

    I am really impressed!

    • Andrew says:

      Good point Ralph – how good is the Android App? It’s far better designed than the standard apps for Twitter and Facebook (especially Twitter.).

  2. Stueeey says:

    I have to say I haven’t used it yet however from what I have seen on the internet about it it has some nice features I just can’t see it topping Facebook. Facebook has a really good grip on this market and it is a similar thing with Buzz and Twitter. That being said I haven’t used it so can’t really comment but its my opinion on it.

    My full thoughts are on my website hope you don’t mind me posting a link.

    http://totalreach.co.uk/2011/07/google-and-the-hype-is-it-worth-it/

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t think it is a similar thing with Buzz and Twitter. Buzz was a half-arsed attempt, and a test bed for social technology. This has Google’s whole weight behind it, and that counts for a lot.

  3. For sure. I was really impressed with it. It is one of the things that struck me showing that Google are trying to take this really seriously. I’d say there best shot of Google+ being a big hit is deep integration into Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwhich.

    If they nail that and it works easily and intuitavely out of the box on the smart phone OS that likely half the world will use then they are probably on to a winner.

    On the Wave/Buzz thing there is a crucial difference here is that Wave/Buzz pretty much sucked as products as well as all the privacy crud. + seems to be a tip top product. There is still a mountain to climb, but it helps if you are trying to climb said mountain with decent kit !

  4. Paul says:

    “The minds behind the world’s leading search engine know what it takes to succeed online.”

    They know what it takes to succeed online in an Internet world based on pages of information, not networks of people.

    That’s a big shift in their entire corporate personality. Their big, lumbering, slow-changing corporate personality.

  5. Paul says:

    Oh, while I’m nitpicking 😉

    Influencing the algorithm isn’t a reason for success. It’s something that Google and possibly marketers care about, not people. Who’s going to sign up because it influences the algorithm?

    It needs people. Lots and lots and lots and lots of people. Then the marketers and algorithms will follow.

    As for influencers, I note how many love Quora. Yet I haven’t met a single normal human who even knows what the hell it is. Hopefully, the benefits of Google+ are a bit more easy to understand.

    But nice post!

    • Andrew says:

      You might well be right Paul. But Google haven’t turned on a sixpence here. That corporate personality has been swinging towards social for a while now, and the whole Google monster is now pointed in that direction, with all its millions of legs lined up.

      Algo-wise – think how many small businesses use Facebook. If they find out Plus can help them online, they’ll adopt it. And tell their friends about this new social network they’ve found. It does seem a bit arse-about-face, but it’s going to generate interest.

      As for Quora – it’s not in the public consciousness the same way that Google is. And, frankly, it’s a terrible website.

  6. Bel says:

    I like the idea of sharing with ‘circles’. You can create ‘lists’ of friends on fb, but each time you want to share with a different list than the last one you used, you have to go into the sharing options and alter them.
    It’s all still quite new, but now that I’ve found the language options I’m quite happy.

  7. Ileane says:

    Hi Andrew, I’m enjoying Google+ I was Hanging Out with a group earlier today and it was pretty cool. I’m not a fan of Facebook and the way they’re constantly making major changes (looks like another major one is coming next week) that seem to take away just as much as they give. I agree about Quora too, the interface in only slightly less annoying than Facebook.

    Google+ is also taking some attention away from Twitter although I doubt if that’s a permanent change.

  8. Aran says:

    I think one of the biggest reasons G+ might really hurt FB is that FB *had* to monetize social – which has lead them into a lot of decisions that people haven’t liked.

    Google doesn’t have to monetize social – they’ve got spare cash, they can play a longer game, and focus more on what people actually want. I think that could be crucial.

  9. Having given this some though over the weekend another thing I think that will be in Google+’s favour is that it has the potential to be social but in the wide wide web.

    The issue with Facebook is that it is a walled garden. Albeit one that has lots of content but walled nevertheless. People will always be coming out of the to go on the wide web. And when there if people are browsing using Chrome, or on their Android phones, or finding sites via google.co.uk then Plus will probably in future be built in.

    Whilst I am not saying that will mean Plus will be a success, it does give it a structural advantage over social that is based in a closed wall environment.

    I will be very interested to see how/if Plus becomes deeply intergrated in to Google search, next version of Chrome and Icecream sandwich.

  10. Gerald Weber says:

    I was really skeptical at first. I was thinking to myself oh gawd! Google is still trying another social experiment.

    But then when I tested it out I was like “Damn that’s not bad”

    I definitely think it has potential and it’s got my interest.

  11. Francisco says:

    Oh God, I wanna a Google+ invite

  12. Good post. I’m late to the party and I’ve only recently started using The Plus, but I agree with the positive sentiments on here. I already like the interface far more than Facebook, and anything that gives me an opportunity to get off Facebook can only be good.

    However. I was only on Facebook in the first place because of SEO benefits. If I’m going to check out, I need to understand how Google is going to integrate social signals into search in the future. Presumably it won’t abandon Tweets and Likes as quality barometers. Instead it will integrate them with +1s in some undisclosed way. So it’s more likely that we will have to carry on using all three sites, to some degree anyway.

    Which brings me to my last point. Setting SEO aside, I don’t really need another ‘log on every day’ site in my life. For me, Twitter really does it all – it’s easy, fast, amusing and very few of my friends and family are on it. I’ve got a fair few followers, making it the best channel to push my blog posts. So it would raise a conflict for me if Plus moved centre stage for SEO. For me, there’s nothing more awkward and lame than using a ‘fun’ site for business/SEO reasons – you feel a fool and you don’t even get that much benefit. So let’s hope Plus is good enough to make such fears irrelevant.

  13. victor says:

    Google isn’t going to crash, also it won’t crash facebook either. My opinion is that G+ is going to be the refuge for everyone who hates farmville.

  14. Google+1 is amazing i prefer the interface and have got quite board with facebook aswell as with anything google does it will aslways be better than anyone elses version

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