Chirag Desai

The lesser known #win’s of Google+


A lot was said before, during and after. Google+ was unveiled to a lot of trumpets this past week and well, we have a serious well-thought out contender. My first impression — well it still holds — is it looks like the perfect fusion between Twitter — the interactivity, un-binding relationship (You don’t *have* to see my posts just because I want to see yours, and vice-versa), the free-flow of public data and sharing — and Facebook — the limitless posting, pictures, videos and locations. Minus the farmville. In HTML5. Dang.

I’m not leaving Twitter or Facebook yet. Twitter still holds value for news and initial interactions. The quick easy stuff. Facebook feels like a giant with way too many users to die (which is okay) but I think over time, and what I see from my current troupe of people, will live on for family and company pages.

A lot has been said already, but I want to highlight some very interesting — and maybe slightly underestimated #wins from Google.

The Google bar. For anyone that uses Gmail or Google to search, Google has steadily improved on the bar at the top, making it sleeker, more organized and so on. With the advent of G+, this bar has jumped to a new level. As expected, there’s a new +You option on the left. But: the integration and ease of posting and responding to posts using this bar is absolutely brilliant. Unlike Facebook that requires me to get on its site to view something (or open up an email), Google has setup a way that — quite literally — lets you leave everything as is and respond. I think it’s underestimated how easy they’ve made it. You can write entire posts, respond to any comments all without leaving your search window or Gmail. And it’s slick, too.

Pushing content to the right people. This to me is less about privacy and more about sharing. Sharing baby pictures is something I’d do with close friends but not necessarily with the world, pictures from a trip I don’t want extended family in on — the list is endless. It looks like privacy, but it’s more about sharing to the right audience. That’s why the circles ideas work so well. I think it is only a matter of time before I have additional circles around people’s interests, and my interests towards them as part of our group dynamic.

The one-stop shop. I don’t really think twitter tried to be this; on the contrary — current issues with development aside — twitter has relied on third parties to build frameworks around the messaging service. Photo-sharing, vid sharing, even link sharing came from outside first. While numbers might indicate a different trend, I do believe most power users prefer twitter clients to twitter web, still. G+ on the other hand is built as a one-stop shop. Over time, I’m sure we will see more platforms and companies integrating with it — pushing and possibly pulling content but the core platform is built for it all. Picture sharing integrated with Picasa, Location with Maps are built so seamlessly it’s tough to see why one needs to go anywhere else. Everyone’s raving about Hangouts as well. It’s a one-stop shop. That will mean a lot to a “new” social network user looking for an easy service to get started on. It will also mean — actually, has already meant — that savvy users are ditching using 2 or 3 services and merging them into one G+ account. There’s value there.

On a different note, I’m interested to see what value organizations can attach to Google+. From a management side of things. Twitter clients typically allow you to manage more than one account, so that makes it easy enough. FB on the other hand now allows you to act as your organization once you have pages you are an admin of. These options make it easy for organizations to use these platforms. The option to create company-specific Gmail accounts exists for now (since google doesn’t allow Apps uses to G+). I can’t confirm or deny yet how easy they will be to manage. But tell you what, I have an idea. Let’s see.

UPDATE, July 4: Well, the last paragraph is a tad pointless, according to this.

UPDATE, July 4, 11:30 a.m.: Guess the google bar isn’t as underestimated. A new Chrome extension keeps the bar floating as you scroll and other improvements. Handy.