As far as the social space is concerned, Google+ just may go on to be the story of 2011. After all, it has been surrounded by more hype than we have seen in a long while. When the platform was unveiled back in June, many pundits in the tech community actually believed it could be a viable competitor to social giant Facebook.
The possibilities had marketers chomping at the bits, anxious to start making an impact. Much to their chagrin, it wasn’t long before Google broke the news that would seemingly change everything.
Opening the Doors
The brands who flocked to create profiles and start establishing a presence were in for a rude awakening when Google discouraged businesses from using the service as a marketing playground. Some brands said the heck with it and went ahead anyway. They quickly found out that the Mountain View, California company was quite serious. Google shut down the profiles of those who did not heed its warning and effectively sent a message to the entire community of observers. At the same time, it alienated a sizable portion of its earliest adopters – brands.
According to Google, its reason for wanting brands to off on their marketing was warranted. The company announced that it was working on a business version of the platform that would essentially allow brands to have at it and approach it as they would a Facebook page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile. That time has come. Google recently rolled out its Google+ Pages and once again, the trendy social network is back in the spotlight. This new feature may be like a breath of fresh air for some, but is it enough to breathe new life back into the project some say lost steam months ago?
Still an Uphill Climb
Attracting over 40 million users in just three months time, Google+ is already on course to become the fast growing social network in the history of well, social networks. Apparently attracting the masses isn’t the problem. Keeping them engaged is. Research shows that the site’s traffic has declined considerably from the early months when it peaked, while several of the early adopters have admitted that their profiles are pretty much sitting idle. Recent data also revealed that the traffic the site gained from the initial launch of the new brand pages has dropped off as well.
Although Google+ shares many traits with the typical social network these days, it also had some qualities that made it unique. This included Circles, a feature that allows users to segment their friends list into different groups, and Hangouts, a video chat feature that lets up to 10 people converse at once. These features were undoubtedly cool, but not to be outdone, Facebook quickly countered Circles with Smart Lists, and fired back on Hangouts with its own Skype-powered video chat feature.
Google+ Pages certainly have undeniable appeal, but with Facebook Pages in the mix, they are anything but unique. Will this highly anticipated feature take the social tool to the next level? We’ll see.