Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy #smday (& welcome to Google+?)

Today, June 30th, marks Mashable's Social Media Day, "A day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming social." This second annual celebration will be commemorated by hundreds of worldwide social media meetups, an no doubt a fair amount of online buzz.

It's perhaps appropriate then that this week marks the official debut of Google's new social product, Google+. Introduced in this blog post and a series of videos, Google+ is a family of apps designed to capture and synthesize the best of the web. It includes mobile applications such as photo sharing and location-based tagging that connect you to friends like Instagram and Foursquare. The group functionality for sorting different aspects of your digital life looks more streamlined then the new Facebook groups. And then there's "+Sparks," which looks like it could bring together fans of different topics in much the way hashtags on twitter, or tags on tumbler allow users to find one another.

So will Google soon be replacing all our other much-loved social sites? Says Steven Levy in this truly in-depth study of the release on Wired, "observers might wonder whether it’s simply one more social effort by a company that’s had a lousy track record in that field to date."

This post on Digital Trends focuses specifically on the fact that Google+ is creating competition for Facebook with the new Circles functionality, and "could have a winner."

Take a look at this Google video previewing the product:



It's easy to get swept up in the idea that this could change the face of the internet. Personally, I found myself laughing at the repeated use of the "Epic Bros" group name, it certainly makes the product seem human and approachable and like something I could see using. But with the quiet failure of Google Wave not so far behind us and privacy concerns from Google Buzz another black mark on their record, I'm hesitant.

The following quote from the Wired article seems to sum up the key takeaway about Google+:

"Google believes that with Circles it has solved the tough sharing problem that Facebook has inexplicably failed to crack. 'With Facebook I have 500 friends — my mom’s my friend, my boss is my friend,' says Shimrit Ben-Yair, the product manager in charge of the social graph. 'So when I share on Facebook, I overshare. On Twitter, I undershare, because it’s public. If Google hits that spot in the middle, we can revolutionize social interaction.'"
Will Google be able to find that white space? Will users be afraid to allow Google so much access to their personal information? We'll certainly be looking forward to seeing what happens in this space.

Did anyone get in on the early release? What do you think?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com.

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