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This is a guest post by Francis Santos.

By now, you’ve probably heard of Google+, the new social network created by Google that has taken the internet world by storm. What you may not know is that the platform is already considered the fastest growing of its kind. It took both Facebook and Twitter well over two years to reach the milestone of 10 million users. Google was able to do it in just over two weeks.

The platform is growing at a tremendous rate, but does that make it a worthy foe to the two biggest players in the social space? While that still remains to be seen, Google+ has some exclusive qualities that give it all the potential to be a serious competitor.

User-Generated Recommendations

A unique Google+ feature that stands out right away is Sparks. What you have here is basically a discovery tool that allows users to find web content directly from the platform. Users can submit topics of their own interests, which in theory, will build up a database of relevant content over time.

For instance, as the system develops, exploring the “Sports” spark may connect the user with content from around the web provided by outlets such as Bleacher Report, ESPN, and Yahoo Sports. Sparks is highly focused on relevant content so there is no need to worry about encountering what a friend is having for dinner, or where they’re hanging out over the weekend.

Video Group Chat

Another element that enables Google+ to standout from the competition is a feature by the name of Hangouts. This particular feature has a lot of people talking as it supports up to 10 people in a single session and best of all, is completely free to use. With the ability it offers to watch YouTbe videos as a group, we see this one being popular with both consumers and business users.

Facebook recently rolled out its own video chat feature, one powered by VoIP software maker Skype. However, this feature only supports one-to-one communications and of course, doesn’t have YouTube video viewing capabilities. Twitter is left out of the comparison with no video chat function to call its own.

Segmented Approach to Friendships

Last but not least we have Circles, the Google+ component that allows users to manage their contacts on the platform. The cool thing about Circles is that it lets you segment your contacts into different groups, which could come in handy when you want to share something only meant to be seen by select eyes. So for example, if you have some important updates you want to share with your employees, you can select “Team”, or whatever you have decided to call that particular circle, from the drop-down menu, which ensures that only those people see the content.

Sounds like a simple concept, but it is one that both Facebook and Twitter have been missing since their inception.

Conclusion

Google wasn’t able to make Facebook or Twitter shed a bead of sweat with its previous social attempts, but the search giant may have finally come upon a fear inspiring weapon this time. And while there is no guarantee that we will see the crowning of a new social king any time soon, Google+ is shaping up to be a firm holder of the number 3 spot at the very least.

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Francis Santos is a blogger for Benchmark Email and also the executive editor for a popular news blog.

Written by Guest Post