Google+ is the most recent addition to the group of important social networks you may need to consider working with personally and for use in the enterprise environment. Pronounced, and sometimes written as Google Plus, it was launched in June 2011 by Google as a social networking service based on existing users of Google tools – principally the Gmail email service.
Google+ offers users a personal profile and the ability to create ‘circles’ of friends, allowing people to be grouped easily as family, friends, or acquaintances – rather than all grouped together as a single big group. Profiles for companies and products can also be created allowing an easy space for businesses to encourage the discussion of their products or services.
The idea of Circles aims to address the problem of people having different types of friends within their social network – family, close friends, colleagues from work. In many cases Facebook users just keep the network for close friends and family so they can avoid sharing too much with the people they work with.
Google+ has also introduced features such as ‘hangouts’ to encourage the social sharing of content – to watch a video online with friends and share the experience in real-time.
In January 2012 Google+ reported a user base of over 90m and if the present sign-up rate continues then it could reach over 400m users by the end of this year – a significant number when measured against any other network except Facebook, which has over a billion active users.
It is worth noting that although industry observers think that Google+ is the biggest single threat to the dominance of Facebook, this is also the fourth time Google has attempted to break into the world of social networking. Even if the network becomes significant, will it be enough to challenge Facebook?
Only time will tell, but if anyone can create a new global network, surely Google can – watch and wait!
Photo by Keso licensed under Creative Commons