Will Google+ make a difference?

Finally, I manage to chip out sometime to write a post up here. Looking at the trends of this week, one couldn’t be foolish enough to miss the hype over Google+.

If you preferred to stay in the deep dark caves of Himalayas, heads buried deep under the snow for last two days, then you might not have a clue. Google+ is Google’s perspective of how a social networking service should be like. Rather, its an implementation of how Google feels social networks should be like.

The news about Google building its own Social Networking service had been doing the rounds since last December, then code-named as Emerald Sea, further known as Google+1. Being one of the Google enthusiasts, I was really anxious about how Google’s view of a social network would be like. Google’s previous attempts to dominate communication and social streams ended in disappointment with Wave and Buzz. I really hoped Wave would do better, but apparently the Internet is a composition of muggles too (anything less than a geek) who’d bluntly ignore a  new communication protocol, but I agree – Wave was a tool, too early of its time. Now that has passed. Google+ is the present. It has been a few days since the Google+ Field Trial began. And this is the right time to ‘judge’ it. Will Google+ make a difference? Is it something Facebook should be worried about?

By now, you have already heard what Circles, Sparks and Hangouts are. So what’s different?

The Difference…

Assuming that Google+ has had its huge share of early adopters and field trail users, Google surely can make a huge impact on the social graph with the help of organized Circles. People will share online, more often when completely aware of the Circles exposed to the post. But, there exists a hidden condition in here. “If and only if users organize their Circles”.

I personally spend a lot of time organizing my social network, grouping people according the nature of relationship we maintain. I like to keep my friend list organized.I already have 8 circles for 49 people. But not everyone does. Not everyone believes in investing time to group their social circles. Success of Circles totally depends on how well Google convinces users to create them.

On the other hand, Hangouts is a pretty convincing feature. I have read people quote it as a “Skype Killer”. I don’t see that happening so soon, but it could drive considerable traffic to Google’s social product.

But, what drives the most traffic on any social network is the activity. A social media service should be active to generate reactive content. This goes in full circles. So far my Google+ stream is highly active (possible due to users like Robert Scoble and Vic Gundotra). But, once again, what drives reactive content is notifications. Google+ surely has a huge plus side for this one. Google+ notifications show up on the top navigation bar at Google.com and many other Google services like Gmail.com.

Also, anyone having a Google account can share on Google+ using this same navigation bar. So, no one having a Google account misses any action on Google+ without even accessing it.

It is pretty obvious that Google is taking Google+ seriously. The black navigation bar seems specially designed to improve the visibility of the red notification icons. Google+ layouts implemented on major Google services like Gmail and Calendar indicate that Google does not want to see this one go down.

Google+ has had a serious impact among some really influential people on the web. Mark Zuckerberg (CEO Facebook) and Tom Anderson (Founder of MySpace) showed their presence on Google’s new platform. Tom Anderson even did a positive post about Google+. Recently Vic Gundotra’s post welcomed Taylor Swift on board. It would be fair enough to say that Google+ is growing at a steady speed. But ultimately its the curve of growth that matters.

Facebook on the other hand seems to have taken Google+ way too seriously. Some hasty invites were shipped out for a conference at Seattle possibly announcing integration of Skype services in Facebook. I don’t know if Google+ will be a Facebook killer, but it surely is going to eat some of it.

For the rest, its too soon to say – so lets wait and watch! 🙂