“Thoughts from the Playhouse”?“Thoughts from the Playhouse” is a series of reports, essays and case studies onall things digital from us at Playhouse Communication Ltd. We plan on producing atleast one „Thought‟ a month but if we find a lot of interesting stuff happening, we‟renot going to limit ourselves. If you would like to subscribe to receive these thoughtpieces, please email us at email@example.comBy Mola Kalejaiye, Online PR & Knowledge Management8th Sept, 2011IntroductionIn case you hadn‟t heard, Google recently launched its own social media platform.So we at Playhouse thought we‟d review and let you know what you need to knowabout Google‟s social media project.Oh, not another social media thing. Do I really need to know about it?Yes you do! Because according to digital business analytics firm ComScore, sinceits „launch‟ in June 2011, Google+ has become the fastest website to reach 25million users – and it hasn‟t really started working yet as all you can do for now isregister. Anyway, by comparison, Facebook took approximately three years toreach the 25 million user milestone, MySpace took just under two years, whileTwitter found its way to the mark in just over 30 months. So all indications are that itis here to stay and is going to be big!Oh okay, so what is it?Google+ is the latest attempt by Google to break into the social network market. Ina nutshell, it is an amalgamation of several services we already use, but accordingto Google, „done better‟. The service allows users to share photos, links and videoswith friends, family and acquaintances.
GOOGLE+ ICONS AT A GLANCEStarting top left and circling to the right: Circles, Hangouts, Home, Sparks, Profile, PhotosWhat the Icons meanGOOGLE+ CIRCLE Google+ Circles is Google‟s version of the Facebook friend list of the Twitter follower list. Users can select multiple friends and drag-and-drop them into groups. This makes it easier to send stuff to friends, family or the entire network.GOOGLE+ HANGOUTS Google+ has a unique video chat feature called Hangouts, which lets you chat with up to 10 people at the same time. With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time. Let specific buddies (or entire circles) know you‟re hanging out and then see who drops by for a face-to- face-to-face-to-face chat.
GOOGLE+ SPARKS Google+ Sparks is Google‟s content recommendation and discovery engine. Users can search different topics and find relevant articles, videos and photos. Users can then share that content with their friends.GOOGLE+ PROFILE Google+ Profiles are like most profile pages. It includes basic information about the user, like interests, occupation and profile photos.GOOGLE+ PHOTOS Google+ allows you to upload and share photos with your friends. It includes photo tagging and a simple browser-based image editor. With instant upload, your photos and videos upload themselves automatically, to a private album on Google+. All you have to do is decide who to share them with.
GOOGLE+ MOBILE Google+ will also be launching mobile apps for Google+, starting with Android. The Android app includes access to the Streams, Circles, Sparks, and multimedia. Google intends to also launch apps for Google+ on other platforms in the near future.Advantages of Google+ Google+ is more like a meeting point for all Google‟s services like Gmail, chat, Google maps, Google Earth, YouTube and Picasa. This means Google+ is basically a social network that brings together all services offered by Google – and already being used by lots of people – into one space. Google+ effectively combines Facebook and Twitter social media programs into one, allowing users to have friends they can share with, and specific groups of friends they can cluster into circles. Users can also follow others, including celebrities or companies like they do on Twitter. Google+ gives you the ability to „discover‟ new people without fear. Since you can add someone and easily segregate them from your private stuff, but allowing them see what you wouldn‟t mind sharing with the world. Privacy is a big issue with online users and with all the criticism about Facebook‟s privacy practices, Google+ is designed to make the privacy challenge easier by providing clear and concise privacy policies to remove doubt of users that are uncomfortable with providing yet another social network with their personal information.Brands and Google+ Google+ is considered „brand friendly‟ as it provides some innovative new social tools that brands can use to connect with their fan-base, but does it really differ from other social network? No one is certain yet till it officially kicks off, but the buzz generated so far is creating a level of excitement among „social network savvy‟ brands. So far, some brands, businesses, organizations and educational establishments have taken advantage of the beta version Google+ invite (including Mark Zuckerberg and 62 other Facebook employees) to start making their presence felt in the newest online frenzy. Ford Motor Company
is one of the first brands on Google+, and it says on their profile that they‟re working with Google to test for businesses. Google says it‟s planning to introduce Google+ for business before the year is out, allowing brands to create profiles for their brands. They have closed all business profiles and asked businesses to hold off on creating consumer profiles for now, and will start doing tests with „non-user entities‟ soon, which will be available for businesses.What are people saying about Google+?Is that it?Not quite. As John Ridpath of Contagious magazine put it, “perhaps our attentionshould be focused less on Google+ as a social network – less on Circles andHangouts and Sparks – and more on what it means for the service at the core ofthe company‟s business: search.”That‟s because when you do a search while logged in to Google+, the results yousee are influenced by your „social graph‟. I.e, if you were to perform a search on„chocolate‟, you might find that some of the results you are being shown arebecause someone within your „Circle‟ has previously shared a particular link. Andthen, if you “link other platforms to their Google accounts – Twitter, Flickr orpersonal blogs, for instance – public content shared or created on those platformsbegins to influence search results too.” So, perform a search on „Brazil‟ and you
might get results showing pictures a friend of yours has taken and uploaded to„Flickr‟!It is called „Social Search‟.“All of this is huge news for brands. Every user of Google+ will receive a unique setof results for each search. So whilst traditional approaches to Search EngineOptimisation will remain important, social is going to become an even bigger prioritythan it is now. In other words, if brands want to maximise their search ranking, theircontent needs to be worth sharing.”Our thoughts?It is our opinion at Playhouse that with the launch of Google+, consumers & brandsare likely to flock to the platform as soon as it is open to the public to start creatingtheir presence because judging by the way Gmail has grown since it launched tothe general public in 2007 till now (estimated 195 million active email accounts asat 2010), it is safe to say that Google+ will be well received and have no problemfitting in comfortably with the other networks available. Initially, it may be a slowprocess (if you can consider 25 million users within 3 months as slow) but over aperiod of time it will surely catch on.However, Google+ shouldn‟t be perceived as a replacement for Facebook orTwitter, rather an additional platform that brands need to be present on.So you may not have to rush to get onto the platform, but you need to be awarethat it is coming.Lastly, Google Analytics will probably play an important role in tracking activity onany given brand‟s page. We believe Google has the capabilities to provide deeplevels of behavioural analysis, which would better identify how traffic is being led toa sign up, a purchase, or any other conversion. This reason alone makes Google+a hit for us here at Playhouse.Okay, when do we start?Just how long will brands have to wait for Google+ Business to launch?“Our original timeline was by the end of the year,” according to a Googlespokesperson, “but we‟ve accelerated. The window is the next few months, and ifwe get it done sooner, that‟s great, too.”So watch this space.About Playhouse Communication LtdPlayhouse is a full service digital advertising agency. If you would like to find outmore, visit our website at www.playhousecomm.com, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +234 (0)13205232.