Thursday, July 28, 2011

Google+ or Facebook?

So I've been on Google+ for a little bit now. I'm liking it. I definitely concur with the folks who say it looks like Google might have finally found a firm toehold in the social space. The Google+ circles are much easily to navigate and make much more sense for organizing the people you socialize with than Facebook's clunky friend lists. I've seen some savvy figures in social media saying they're going to dump Facebook for Google+. Might be too early for that, I think.

In any event, local marketing types and other folks who make it their business to stay on top of social media are organizing panel discussions and informal get-togethers to discuss the relative merits of the new social network. They've seen how challenging Facebook marketing can be. They figure they'd better start scouting Google+ now, before it goes from testing to general release. "To be at the forefront of the evolution of a platform gives you a real advantage when it comes time to use that platform for business," says Lyell Petersen, an internet marketing director and familiar face around local social media circles.

He's helping organize a get-together next Thursday at 6 p.m. where people wanting to know more about Google+ can explore and experiment with it together. They're calling it a "Google+ Hack Night" -- not the illegal variety, of course, but hacking in the sense of digging into the features to see what they can do. He's got questions of his own: how does Google+ integrate with the rest of the Google universe? How does your data and information, your Picasa pictures and Gmail contacts, get shared with Google+?

I also see a challenge for the new network: the simple matter of time. We don't have enough of it. How will we squeeze another social task on to-do piles already overflowing with Facebook statuses and Twitter updates and blog posts? That alone gives Google a higher bar to clear than perhaps Facebook confronted in its infancy, when teens and college students were about the only ones on social networks.

I hope Google+ sticks. Competition's a good thing. Maybe it'll even rescue the much-abused and totally degraded word "friend" from the ravages of Facebook.

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