Google+ was launched a few weeks ago and has since been the subject of much conversation and speculation. Everybody working within the web environment has been desperately trying to get their hands on a Google+ invite, so that they can find out what all the fuss is about.
We've finally got our Google+ invite
Whilst we've been frustrated by the 'invite only' policy Google has been using (we've only recently been able to join Google+), their approach has certainly paid dividends; the social network has already amassed well over 20 million users and its users are sharing more than 1 billion pieces of content daily. This rapid growth means that Google+ is not only showing signs of competing with the likes of Facebook, but actually, becoming the dominant social network.
So what's all the fuss about?
There's certainly something appealing about Google+, not least because of its 'invite only policy'. This alone makes you want to join - to be part of the elite - to have access to something not everyone has. It's a similar concept to what is in effect over at 'The World's Most Exclusive Website', which we were introduced to a few months back. Created by Jeff Greenspan, Mike Lacher and Chris Baker, this is an incredibly well executed idea.
So can Google+ compete with Facebook?
Getting back to Google+, so many people are questioning how much potential the social network has and whether it can really challenge Facebook. I think it most definitely can - at least against particular demographics.
What must Google+ get right?
The way in which Google+ launches its business profiles will be key to its success. Many companies have already setup profiles within the social network simply by using the personal account templates. Google is against this trend however, and has insisted that personal profiles should only be created for real individuals - people and not organisations. Google has also gone as far as deleting accounts which it feels have been created against these guidelines. Business profiles are set to be launched in the coming months however.
I think the successful introduction of the business profile is key to the success of Google+ for one reason - and that relates to Google's stronghold over the search industry. Businesses will need little convincing of the benefits a Google+ business page will have for them. We all know how search engine traffic - particularly from Google - is extremely valuable to businesses and if there is even a suggestion of ranking algorithms considering Google+ metrics, then I've no doubt that many businesses will set themselves up with a business profile.
I hope that Google makes business profiles easier to use than Facebook Pages, which are a little awkward and counter-intuitive for those new to the social network. Facebook 'Fan' Pages (for businesses etc) were launched some time after personal profiles were, and this lead to a number of businesses setting themselves up with personal profiles. Following the launch of Facebook Pages however, there was no way of migrating business profiles over to the correct Facebook Page template, which has lead to Facebook being littered with business profiles on both 'platforms' and I think it's a little difficult for people to understand exactly what they need to do in order to correct the problem. I also find it a little irritating that Facebook requires you to have a personal profile in order to set up and manage a business page - it can get complicated flicking backwards and forwards between the two accounts, so Google really should make sure that business users can easily setup an account without the need for a personal profile.
Convincing others maybe a little more difficult
Aside from businesses, which will be driven to Google+ in order to maintain their rankings within Google's search engine, persuading others to leave their Facebook accounts in order to join Google+ may take a little more effort. For most people, Facebook profiles will comprise a great deal of personal information, which has been amassed over many years. Photos and contacts will need to be reestablished should they move to Google+ (and not all of their contacts would make the move, meaning they could lose touch with some people) and conversations would also be lost. I think that overcoming this issue is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Google in the near future.