The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Google+ was unofficially launched last month, and since then it’s been argued over, questioned, reviewed, and scrutinized. Some people say it’s the grim reaper coming for Facebook, while others say it’s destined to fail like Google’s other function-heavy and high tech, yet staggeringly underused, social media offerings, Google Wave and Google Buzz. Yet people are dipping their toes in the Google+ waters, not wanting to be left out of the next big thing. My question is – should they bother?
A quick overview of the main features of Google+
- Circles – This is how you organize your online friends. You choose which circle they go in, like “Family,” “Clients,” “Social Media Icons,” or “ExGirlfriends.” When you post an update, you can choose it to be Public, or you can choose the circles you want to share your message with. If you have a funny story to share with your family, but don’t really think it’s client-appropriate, as long as you’ve set up your circles right, you can confidently share with them only. (There’s even a feature to disable further sharing – so your message can’t be easily forwarded to unintended audiences)
- Hangouts – This is getting a fair bit of attention, but basically you turn on your Hangout flag, and your friends can join you in a videoconference. Up to 10 people can be in a Hangout at a time. From what I’ve read, it’s the feature missing from the other social realms.
- Sparks – A quick and easy way to find the content you’re interested in. Basically, it’s your favorite search terms on the left side of the page. When you’re looking for something to Spark, click the link and your stream will be populated with relevant content.
- Asynchronous Friends/Followers – This is something that Google has done well, even if it’s been borrowed from Twitter. You can follow anyone you want (put them in your circle) and anyone can follow you. No more friend requests where I have to follow you if you follow me. If you don’t want to follow them, you don’t have to.
But this new vehicle from Google has the same inherent flaws as their other ingenious creations. With the ability to do almost anything, many people find themselves doing pretty much nothing; lurking while the established social media celebrities flood the streams. Like Wave and Buzz, the capabilities are impressive; easily replicating the way people perform in social media. Also like Wave and Buzz, it launched with an air of exclusivity, and an invitation-only barrier to entry to make those without a coveted invite want it even more. Of course, by achieving 10 million followers in 16 days, and an estimated 500K to 1 million joining each day, it will probably be like the Google invites. You’ll have 10-20 to send, but everyone you know is already at the Google+ party. They just might not be doing anything with it yet.
The current consensus is that it probably won’t be a Facebook killer, but only time will tell. Many others have tried in their own way, but if any company has the determination, resources, and fanbase to overthrow Facebook and Twitter, it’s Google. Google+ seems to be a smooth, well designed, and user friendly product, but Facebook is a powerful frenemy, and Twitter has a very loyal fanbase.
If you ask me, Google+ might be the next big thing, but I have my doubts about it. What has your experience been like? Is it a social media win or a whale of a fail?
Hope is necessary in every condition.
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
A few nights ago in Chicago, I was joined by my Real Estate Mastermind Group for what was supposed to be a nice dinner at Zocalo Restaurant in River North. We were planning on having a great dinner with an extra serving of awesome conversation. As we walked in, the first question from the waitperson was “Do you have any coupons?” She may as well have said “You don’t look like you can afford to eat here, so the only reason you’re here is because you have a Groupon deal.” Needless to say, I was a little taken aback. Our bill was $400, so it’s not really a cheap place to eat, but because of the way I was greeted at the door, the whole experience was ruined for me.
I had a quick look at the most recent Groupon deal for Zocalo, and sure enough, they sold 5157 Groupons of $10 for $25 worth of Mexican Cuisine. Does this make it acceptable to treat everyone like the only reason they’re coming to the restaurant is because they are coupon clippers? I understand the concept behind Groupon, but if you don’t provide exceptional service to the Groupon buyers when they come in, they won’t have any reason to come back. Until you run another discount…
What’s the rudest greeting you’ve ever experienced?
- I fly a lot.
- I fly a lot on United Airlines. About 120 times last year, and looking to be about the same this year.
It’s not that I love to travel (which I do), it’s just that my clients are all over the US, and in my experience, United Airlines gets me there quickly and easily. So it’s probably no surprise that I’m a fan of their new iPhone app. The ability to check-in or check on a flight, right from the palm of my hand, is a fantastic feature, but it’s the built in airport maps that make me love this app. No more trying to figure out how to find a great cup of coffee or an archaic mailbox – now I can just have a quick peek at the map, and find that what I’m looking for is usually in the wrong direction of where I’m heading. What can I say – it’s one of my favorite free apps. I know my way around most of the airports in the US, but it’s nice to have a quick reference to see the actual layout while I’m en route to the Red Carpet Club.
United is no stranger to social media. They’ve got a good Facebook presence – over 320,000 followers, as well as a very active Twitter account – over 24,000 followers and following less than 300 (but I’m one of them!) They seem to know how to engage with their audience, and even held a #unitedplanechat conference on Twitter on Monday, July, 25, 2011, where people in the twittersphere could chat with the people working at United. A bunch of great questions, with some silly ones, but all-in-all, a good attempt at chatting with their customers via social media. To cap it off, one lucky winner won a model plane. Ok, maybe that’s not really winning, but the chat was interesting, and it looks like they’re going to have another in August.
Have you tried this app yet? What do you think of it? Does it need anything added to make it more useful for you?
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.
Lyrics from Already Gone, performed by the Eagles for their 1974 On the Border album