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Sun - 21.01.2018

The unstoppable new social network: a Google+ update

The unstoppable new social network: a Google+ update

With nearly 20 million users already, Google+ is the fastest growing social network yet. It has taken elements from leading competitors (Facebook and Twitter, most notably), and refined them into a social networking site that aims to deliver more nuanced online interaction. As the network rapidly adds features to keep from being a one-hit-wonder, it is showing potential to become the next big thing in social media- and perhaps the next tool for savvy journalists.

Google+ launched to the Gmail-using public a little over three weeks ago. It managed to attract users quickly based on its already-huge user base that depend on the search engine for Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Calendars, amongst other features. The network is integrated seamlessly with other Google products, appearing as a black toolbar at the top of the search engine's page. Upon becoming a member, the black toolbar indicates incoming notifications and allows easy access to Google+ profile pages.

The official Google+ app for iPhone and Android was released yesterday. Mashable explained the app's features, which include Stream, a news feed of friends' updates, Circles, a way to share content with specific people, and Huddle, a group messaging feature. Huddle is well suited for mobile, as few phones support streamlined group SMS. Recognizing the features' potential, Google has added a separate Huddle app for Android (in addition to the Google+ app).

As for businesses, Google is developing corporate profiles for the network. The current profiles are not well suited to businesses, as Christian Oestilien of the Google+ team acknowledged in a post two weeks ago. He explained that users communicate differently from each other than they do with brands and noting the awkwardness of asking Ford Motors for its gender. Oestlien assures that team of engineers is currently working on "a business experience that should far exceed the customer profile in terms of usefulness."

This news is interesting for news organisations, as they could generate traffic from posting to a news specific stream. Facebook is the pioneer in this field, as it was the original social network to allow businesses to have 'Pages' distinct from profiles.

Although Facebook contacts cannot be exported and re-uploaded onto Google+ (at least not anytime soon, if Facebook can help it), there are now tools to allow users to upload address books. TechCrunch walks users through the necessary steps, as the feature requires some navigation. For now, Microsoft Outlook and LinkedIn contacts can be exported to Google+. The more people join Google+, the more interesting it is for news organisations down the road.

Mashable has detailed interesting ways Google+ is being used by journalists. Although the social media site is not nearly as established as Facebook (which hosts journalists through its Facebook + Journalists page) or as widely used as Twitter, it still has journalistic potential. One anchor for a local TV program hosted an audience "hang out", where she spoke to Google+ fans and gave them a behind-the-scenes view of the newsroom. Some journalists have used it for news analysis, as Twitter's restrictive 140-character limit is not conducive to thoughtful conversation. Mashable argues that the conversation is more engaging, as unlike Facebook's algorithm, Google+ posts bring conversations back to the top of a stream when new comments are posted.

Google+ has gotten lots of attention in the past few weeks, both positive and negative. Whether or not its growth continues at such a high rate, one thing is for certain: the new social network will continue generating interest, from citizens, businesses, and journalists alike. Its one major current limitation is that it's only available to Gmail users - but does Google plan to broaden its reach?

Souces: Mashable 1,2,3, Social Times, Google+, TechCrunch



Florence Pichon


2011-07-21 14:15

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