Jump on the social media bandwagon by Matt Hamm, on Flickr
Google has been toying with social networks / media for years. Remember Orkut? Or how about Wave? And those are just two of the ones that fizzled out..
Google+, however, seems to be "catching on" and might actually go somewhere. (Some reports are citing figures in excess of 20 million users already!)
I'm naturally cynical, so I've been thinking about how Google will gain from it and the answer is pretty obvious.
Stickiness, which will result in more accurate data on usage patterns and behaviour.
While Google has been expanding its various services to encompass all facets of our online lives it wasn't as cohesive and "sticky" an experience as they might have liked. With Google+ users have a valid reason (motivation) to always be logged in, which gives the company a lot more accurate information about how individual users interact online.
Facebook has been the social network for the last couple of years and only a couple of companies, such as Google, could stand even a slim chance of making any significant inroads into their userbase quickly. Sure, maybe something new and exciting will come along in a few months that will overshadow everything else, but Google already has a massive userbase. For Google to convert its existing users over to a usable social network could be the coup.
But getting a (relatively) small percentage of Google's userbase to play with the new "toy" is one thing, keeping them coming back is a totally different matter.
Google does have an advantage as it wasn't the "first mover". It's had the opportunity to watch and learn from both its own mistakes and those of others, such as Facebook.
Facebook has received a lot of criticism for its rather obtuse privacy controls, whereas Google+ chose a much simpler concept of privacy and sharing via the "circle' paradigm.
But Facebook has brought all facets of popular culture to a single place, which means that no matter what your poison is there's probably something on Facebook to sate your appetite. Google+ will have solutions for companies and one would assume other products and services "soon", but they haven't given any indication of when.
Maybe Google+ has simply turned things around and given "social" back to "society" ?
I guess we'll know when we know .. (or when it implodes .. )
Image credit: Jump on the social media bandwagon by Matt Hamm, on Flickr