Google has launched a new social media offering entitled Plus (that’s +) – to mixed reviews.A number of people have been researching Google Plus and whilst there is disagreement it seems to be a qualified success.
At first glance many people will dismiss Google Plus as a derivative of Facebook. This was also true of the ill-fated Buzz.
But this is a much better and more thoughtfully designed product than Buzz- with better security settings.
Accordingly the interface is familiar and relatively intuitive but Google Plus still takes some getting used to.
Some have already criticised Google Plus as a “reactive” product, simply mimicking Facebook with some security tweaks.
Google’s radically different product Google Wave crashed and burned because people didn’t really know what it was or how to use it.
It was too scary unfamiliar. Plus plays it safer and is less of a departure from the known universe of social media tools (Facebook, Twitter) than Wave was from email, for example.
Google has learned the painful lesson of Buzz and has taken enormous pains to attend to privacy in the overall design and experience of the product.
It’s very easy to add people and organize them into standard or customized groups. This is one of the things that immediately impressed me, as well as the attention to privacy and selective sharing.
There’s lots of control over who sees what updates, etc. You’re also able filter all messages and updates by category to see only those from “friends” or “professional” contacts. On the Plus homepage you can click down the list and get selective views from each of your groups:
Users can create and manage groups (“Circles”) very easily once you understand how Plus is organized. This takes relatively little time.
Google says Plus isn’t a Facebook competitor. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Whether or not it’s intended as a Facebook competitor, it’s definitely not a “Facebook killer.” However its privacy controls and selective group communication tools will appeal to some turned off by Facebook’s aggressive pushing of privacy boundaries and buttons.