Let me start off by saying that I know most people, especially young people, are not on Google+ — and I get that. However, people overlook the importance and potential of this social platform.
It took a really long time for me to understand the benefit of Google+, aside from the fact that it felt less saturated than other social networks with cluttered advertising and posts from friends I found irrelevant. The Google+ network has 359 million active monthly users, which is significant, but still far from the 1.1 billion+ active monthly users on Facebook.
I often explain Google+ as a hybrid between already existing social networks. Its layout mirrors Facebook, though it is considerably less cluttered. I find that the hashtag searching (a feature that has not taken off on Facebook) on Google+ is more common, similar to Twitter. The Circles feature, which allows you to group friends, coworkers, and family separately, reminds me of TweetDeck, a free tool to monitor Twitter activity that lets you view your lists, activity, interactions, and search hashtags in neatly organized columns. Additionally, the ease of searching on Google+ also bears a resemblance to the Google search engine.
So as a social media user with many accounts, what’s the benefit of using yet another network that is arguably a hybrid of major ones I already use?
An answer, in short: Google Authorship.
It’s the one feature of Google+ that I think is slowly going to become very important. It allows you to claim authorship over your content as it is scattered around the web. The more content that is traced back to your common name, the more authority you will have on the web. You are also able to link your blog posts to your Google+ account so that each time someone comments on them, the comments will appear on Google+ as well. Google+ will then also notify you whenever your content is shared or commented-on anywhere on the web. Google+ is optimizing content marketing. It’s giving people more control over what they create AND share.
Why Google+ Will Appeal to Younger Users
I predict that the network’s heightened level of control will appeal to younger generations. There is already some evidence of this, though indirect, in a recent story published by Mashable that was written by 13-year-old Ruby Karp and titled, “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook.” In the article, which created a great deal of discussion at the time of its publication, Ms. Karp cites the fact that family members constantly monitor activity on Facebook to the point that younger users, such as herself, are deterred from using the network. Additionally, those same family members and other adults are limiting access to social networks such as Facebook so much so that younger generations are turning to different networks instead.
Design also plays a part; Ms. Karp mentions the fact that Facebook lacks the simplicity of networks like Twitter. Google+ has the simplicity of Twitter and allows users to control which “circle” content is shared with, addressing the issue of concern over family members seeing everything that they share.
So, will Google+ be the social network of the future?
Google+ will reinvent social networks in the same way LinkedIn has. LinkedIn has created a professional social network. I see Google+ more in line with LinkedIn—it will be one of those things most people will need to have to establish authority on the web.
No, Google+ is not the new Facebook. Facebook is Facebook; it’s informal and candid. Google+ aspires to be much more than that. It aspires to be the hub of all our activity on the web.
Kimberlee Raymond is the Social Media Coordinator at Highly Relevant. In addition to all things social media, she enjoys keeping up with the latest tech trends and fashion blogs.