For too long now, it seems, Google Plus (or Google+), has suffered the image of ‘straggler’- the wounded gazelle of the Social Media herd, if you will.
Features, usability and sign-up numbers concerning the search engine juggernaut’s brainchild have, most times, lagged, lacking in any profundity. Any development has mostly added to confusion on the platform and left it struggling behind the likes of Twitter, and of course, that Social Media ship masthead: Facebook.
Could it be now though, that the wounded gazelle of Google+ has started to heal and find its feet? Recent developments and hikes in user sign-ups shout a resounding, “aye!”
What’s The Magic Number?
Well, just over 170 million users*, to be exact.
Granted, no candle is held to big-daddy Facebook’s unfathomable user tally of more than 800 million active users**, but the increase is nothing to be sniffed at. It’s a healthy number, considering the fact that the other Social Media ‘big player’, Twitter, only boasts around 100 million active users**. And it’s a healthy number considering that a mere ten or so months ago, the platform was the ignored black sheep of a rapidly burgeoning online social explosion.
That is quite a leap, and formidable growth. Rob Waugh, UK Mail Online contributor, pointedly states in an article, that the growth: “…lags Facebook’s 845 million user count, but it’s far greater than Facebook’s tally at that stage in its development.” Now there’s a point to ponder.
So, why the change of heart from Social Media buffs the world over, then? Are the numbers deceptive? They could be: “…it is unclear as to whether fans actively used (sic) the network, or signed (sic) up as part of a Google account,” continues Rob Waugh. Let’s not be sceptics and naysayers, though. For it has come to light that the folks at Google have made some very noble efforts in overall developments to the platform.
*Rob Waugh, Reviewers give thumbs up to Google Plus’s ‘Facebook-esque’ redesign (but is it too little, too late for the unpopular network?), 12 April 2012. Dailymail.co.uk [Accessed: 13 June 2012]
**DigitalBuzzBlog, Infographic: Social Media Statistics For 2012, Tuesday, January 3, 2012. Digitalbuzzblog.com [Accessed: 13 June 2012]
The Bells And Whistles
These recent overhauls and user experience changes are some examples, and may just be the force behind the Google+ rise in popularity:
Look And Feel
It’s a new easy-to-use, easy-on-the eyes interface that incorporates everything from clean navigation, to the embedding of all offerings from Google’s product range – YouTube, for instance. It’s slightly Facebook reminiscent, but does the job and is polished, neat and streamlined.
Places With The Plus
Social interactions can now be subject to boosts. Google+ users can choose to weave a web of geographically powered social interaction by including the Google Maps function with how they run their personal profiles.
Incorporating geographic location is now a prominent facet to all parts of the Social Media experience. And for marketers, this feature means a bright shining light squared firmly on any business location, where customers can search and share experiences, and where communities rally easily around the online presences of their favourite businesses – all at the click of a local listings tab.
Hangouts: Good Enough For World Leaders
It started with President Barack Obama connecting in live chat with members of the American public, and has blossomed into a concept of infinite potential.
Google+ ‘Hangouts’ allows users the neat sorcery of broadcasting whatever they want, via their account interface, using YouTube. It’s a platform for those that are vain, those that have something to say, those that aspire to be seen, and those that just want a chat. And as we saw, it’s even a place where a president can speak to his people.
If anything, the marketing implications to this particular feature are what really catch the eye. Opportunities abound where brands can interact with specific clientele and target markets, bringing their ideas, promotions, advertisements and features to a place where those people can interact immediately with that brand, in a visual sphere.
Google+ Grows: The Race Is On
With its shiny new look and new, potentially ground breaking features, Google+ could very well be gaining significant momentum in the current Social Media grapple and tumble. Perhaps never looking a threat to Zuckerberg’s rolling, heaving digital social steamroller, the fledgling effort could, however, eventually become crucial to business and social interaction online, to a significant degree.
We may very well be poised for a ‘+1’ explosion, and one fuelled by the very nitrous spirit and fire that’s been propellant to Google’s own rise as a search supremo. When all else is said and done, it comes down to good digital genes, wouldn’t you say?