Google+ was launched with much anticipation in June 2011. The world waited with baited breath to see if Google could improve on its social products, with previous attempts failing like a flan in a cupboard. So what has Google+ achieved, and what will 2014 hold in store? Google has tried and failed at social media innumerable times in the past (you can see a lovely little round up from Mashable here).
Just yesterday Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying “…missing the rose of social media was the biggest mistake” he had made at Google. So, better late than never, we have Google+. It was a slow starter – more it seems because users were unsure what it was really for, more than anything else. Twitter and Facebook had most angles covered, and there was no gaping hole in the market. Google don’t appear to have marketed Google+ too well, and most of my non-tech friends still don’t really know what it is.
Today, Google+ has amassed over 300 million active users, and is the second largest social platform after Facebook. Neither of these social media platforms are simply that, there’s more to both of them.
Google+ has a slow start, and social sharing remains pretty slow despite a surge in users between May and November last year. The contrast is not entirely surprising mind, given that you must have a G+ account to access so many services, users are being coerced into joining and aren’t actually engaging with it much.
As they fight for online traffic and advertising dollars, elements of Facebook are starting to behave more like a search engine, and elements of Google are heading into social.
Google+ is not simply a social network, it’s an intelligence gathering tool, authorship identifier, and base for other Google services such as local, Play, Local, and the only way to log in and comment on YouTube. The +1 button, the Google version of Facebook’s infamous ‘Like’ button allows users to recommend pages and posts they like, helping businesses gain traction and qualified traffic.
Google’s biggest priority in 2014 is likely it be Google Glass, possibly leading to Google+ getting a little less love than it may have done otherwise. Regardless, Google+ is likely to steadily gain users as it becomes necessary for business and the public to have a log in in order to access services.
The biggest issue for Google+ at the moment is that it’s just not being used as they might like. Right from the start tech-types, developers, designers and digital marketers flocked to the shiny new service, and there they have remained. But uptake in other areas has been slow, sometimes snail paced.
Any business with a high number of registered users and little interaction is doing something wrong, even if that business is Google. To many it is still a bit of an unknown quantity, which may be the reason the average user just isn’t latching on.
However with the increasingly aggressive style of advertising being allowed on Facebook and the recent trialling of video advertising directly into user news feeds, Facebook is in danger of stepping over the line in the name of penny grabbing and pushing users to consider Google+ as an alternative.
Equally, Facebook offers little in the way of privacy any more, removing the option to not appear in searches and now apparently they may even be keeping track of what you type but delete without publishing.
For businesses, Google+ is a must. To curry favour with Big G as well as make your brand more prominent across Google’s vast range of services including reviews, maps, Local is essential for the health of businesses online and could have a real-world effect on those who choose to ignore it.
Like all decent social media platforms 2014 is likely to be the year when businesses realise this is not a quirky thing for the young ones, but that social media is a viable route to qualified traffic and an increase in custom.
There is a lot of chatter about the increase in the use of different social platforms for image and video based sharing, which Google+ lends itself to perfectly.
All in all it seems that Google+ is likely to be the place to be in 2014 for users and businesses alike, maybe not with a sudden explosion, but more of a slow burner with long lasting results.
If you’re not already involved, check out Mashable’s beginner’s guide and get started.