This is the biggie, when it comes to Google+. A lot of what you see right now on this new social networking platform is a bunch of social networking professionals all sharing ideas and blog posts and videos, saying that for the tech savvy, this platform blows Facebook out of the water. It’s the Next Big Thing.
But a few other wise commenters occasionally come in and make a really valid point: what if only these social media tech savvy people go there? Is that going to be enough, for them to sit around and congratulate each other about how savvy they are? What about the average Joe or Jill, who are probably among the target customers of these techie social media people? (Or people like me, for that matter?) If these people don’t follow them to Google+, what good is it, except as a nifty place for the techies to hang out with each other and pat each other on the back?
And others are asking a broader question: Google+ does a lot of things that Facebook does, and in a great many people’s opinions, does them much better. But there’s an elephant in the room — or rather, there’s a gigantic gap where the elephant is supposed to be. Where are the equivalent of Facebook business and fan Pages??
The word is that they’re coming “later,” but the word also is that there’s been such a clamour for them that Google is making business accounts a priority. Already, people who have opened accounts in the name of a business are posting info to their followers and friends, telling them how they can find the business page if the individual pages get zapped. Or suggesting that people also follow the main poster from that company, so they can get news about how to subscribe to the new pages when they come.
Once the business accounts are set up, then we’ll really see. (I imagine that’s when Google+ will be opened to everybody, because it’s hardly worth putting a business page there if you have to individually invite your fans to join G+.) But once the business sites are up, we’ll see how well people respond to them. It won’t be much longer, I imagine, before other Google services are woven into this one. So for example, you’ll be able to work on a document through Google Docs and invite certain people to view it through your connection on Google+. And that, of course, will be when we find out once and for all whether Google+ can function as a fully and smoothly integrated system, or will have problems.
I’m quite optimistic about how it will all turn out, given how nice the interface is so far. If Google can make all its services work together, the whole system could be massively powerful. I doubt it will stay free of frivolous things like games forever, and I can’t imagine it will be free of advertising forever either, especially once the businesses come on board. But watching it compete with Facebook for the hearts and minds of those in the social media world is going to be fascinating.
Though of course…some people have other opinions…!