For a long time now Google has tried again and again to crack the social media code. As Facebook and Twitter continue to pioneer in the social networking world, is Google’s latest attempt, Google+, offering users something different?
After failing miserably with Google Buzz and Wave, the pressure is on for Google+ to succeed and to court the attention of avid social media users. And with Facebook once again receiving a low satisfaction score in the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report, it would seem that now is the right time to lure consumers to try a new social net.
Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, said: “The survey was conducted last month, before the widespread introduction of Facebook’s biggest competitor, Google+, but Facebook’s low score indicates that Google+ could easily pounce and gain market share if they can provide a superior customer experience.”
So does Google + provide a “superior customer experience”? Well, let’s look at the collection of features offered and how it can be used
To “join the project”, you’ll firstly need a Gmail account and once you have that, you’ll need to find a friend who’s already a Google+ member to provide an invitation. It’s more like a social media members club than a free for all!
Google allows everyone with an account invite others, however, it only turns on invitations for brief periods. Your friend will have to wait for the window to open before inviting you.
Once inside the “project”, you’re given the chance to look for people you know. If you’ve had a Gmail account for a while, Google+ will suggest adding your contacts, some of whom may already be members, to collections of people called Circles. And this is where Google+ is a little different and where they start offer something a little different
Suggested people appear as “cards” at the top of the screen, with blue circles labeled Family, Friends, Acquaintances and Following. To add someone to your network, simple drag-and-drop the appropriate card into the circle.
The red circle called Block also allows you to have greater control over your privacy – once you put a card in there, that person won’t be able to see your activity, and you won’t see theirs either.
Another benefit of the Circles feature is that when you share links, pictures, videos or any writing, you can designate which of your Circles can see it. You can post drunken party pictures and only share them with the Circle you’ve named Enablers. Put your parents in the Family circle and your boss in the Work circle and your bad habits stay semi-secret!
The Hangouts feature lets friends or entire Circles know you’re “hanging out” and then you can have a video chat with friends, colleagues or family members who are online. But this isn’t just one-to-one chats, the feature enables multi face-to-face-to-face chat – a bit like an online conference call.
The Sparks feature is all about what you like – you tell the feature what you’re into i.e fashion, sport, cooking – and then the feature will send stuff it thinks you will like.
Google+ lacks certain applications that Facebook users will be used to using (Events app, for example) but at the same time Google+ does offer something different for social media consumers, and there is definitely a market for it.