Google+ is celebrating its first anniversary today and you can feel the electricity in the air. No, really. I mean it. There are folks, (granted, not a lot of them) over on Google+ posting about how this new social network has changed their life. Which leaves me wondering what I’ve missed.
Yesterday, at the Google I/O conference, a spokesperson said that Google+ now has 250 million registered users. They say 150 million of them are 30-day actives, and 50% sign in every day. Those that do sign in spend more than an hour on the site.
Not bad, except I have to wonder about the “sign-in” part. When I’m logged into Gmail, I have Google+ notifiers in the upper tool bar. Does that mean I’m “signed in?” The number I want is how many people actually update their status on a regular basis or even stop by to peruse their feed.
While I don’t subscribe to the notion that Google+ is a successful social network, or that they’re crushing Facebook, I do believe that they’re making great strides in the area of social media tools. Innovation is something Google is good at, implementation, not always on target.
Google+’s Hangout tool is a great leap forward in video chat. Now, they’ve upgraded that experience as part of the new Google+ app for the tablet. The new app is smart and clean with large, clear photos and subtle design elements that make it easy and enjoyable to use. For example, popular stories show up larger than other stories, unseen stories take a few seconds to animate so you can tell what’s new. It’s not available yet, but Google says, “coming soon.”
One of Google’s keywords from yesterday’s conference is “seamless.” They’re all about taking all the bits of things we do online and offline and melding them together into one start to finish experience. That’s what Google+ Events is all about.
Let’s say you’re planning a birthday party. You begin on Google+ by sending out invitations, but not just any invitations. You can choose from a selection of subtly animated, photographic headers that will make your invite stand out. Send it to Google+ friends or by email, then track the response with the online tools.
Not so different from other online tools until you get to Party Mode. This is a feature that automatically captures and catalogs all of the photos and videos taken at the event. Anyone who is on Google+ can switch on Party Mode via their mobile phone and start snapping away. His pictures, her pictures, my pictures, all automatically sync with the party page creating a constantly updating scrapbook that you can enjoy during and after the event.
Party Mode is an excellent feature with a huge potential for going wrong. First, even though there is an “on” indicator in your tool bar, people will forget to turn the feature off before snapping non-event photos. Yikes. It also means anyone with poor taste can instantly upload inappropriate photos of people who will hate them for it come morning. What Party Mode needs is admin banning privileges so the party host can keep his fraternity brother from signing in during the wedding.
I do see marketing potential here. If you run events as party of your business, Party Mode is a great way to get people more involved, be it a conference, trade show, sales event, or performance.
One year after launch, I do have to admire Google’s little train that could tenacity. I think they’re doing a lot of things right and for a certain crowd, they’re a nice respite from the noise of Facebook. Why the site isn’t catching on with the general public, I honestly do not know.
What are your thoughts on the future of Google+. Can these innovators top the social media leaderboard or are they doomed to be second (or third) best?