Sunday, 24 July 2011

Google+ And Local

 

I have been playing with Google+, Google’s new social network and I am impressed. Not by the fact that it is a decent social product, which it is, but by the fact that with it, Google has managed to add a social layer to all of their products in one fell swoop in a way that could very well ease the way to broader adoption by the many users of their search products.

By integrating the product into the immediacy of search, it will be a quick way to create an easily segmented stream amongst the many folks that are already in your mail address book. In doing so Google may be able to overcome the real barrier to starting a new social network, the fatigue from having to assemble yet another collection of acquantances with whom to share.

It is a product that, while not an immediate threat to Facebook, is an immediate threat to Twitter. It takes the basic idea of Twitter, enhances it with easy to create subsets of your contacts and puts it front and center in your search experience. That is a very powerful place to be, one which gets millions of users every day. Twitter, which is just starting to see broad mainstream adoption, will now have to not only with deal convincing people to use their product but getting them to even come and look. If someone is going to add a second social network, and many won’t, will they not just make the “easy” choice and stay at Google?

Facebook and Twitter have been slow to build out their Places presence and have failed to offer significant value to the local merchant. Places is already there. When you add a functioning social layer that is readily available and ever present Google may actually be the first to offer a social local product at very large scale.

Calling a product decent may seem to be damming it with faint praise. It is hard to get too excited about another social product for me and I am sure for many others. That being said, Google seems committed to this product and appears to be going for broke in positioning it as equally important as their search and local products. In doing so they gain immediate mind share and hopefully for them an easier transition for users into the world of Google social. Google has to hope that the the new interface, jarring to some long term users (I find it ok and assume I will adapt) of Google, won’t push many users to try Bing and will attract enough social participants for them to compete effectively with Twitter short haul and Facebook over the long term. Its success will be dictated by the way and the speed that it is rolled out to the great mainstream of Google users.

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