Google + in a Nutshell

Google rolled out a new social network called Google Plus on Tuesday, June 28th.  It’s currently in beta testing mode but I was lucky enough to get an invite from Jason Tenenbaum shortly after it launched.  (Email me at samanthataracollier@gmail.com if you’d like an invite as well.) At first glance, Google + is clean and simple.  There’s a lot going on but it’s not as addictive as Facebook… yet.

My dear friend Gini Dietrich asks What the Heck is Google+ over on the Spin Sucks blog.  She’s gathered the opinions of Robert Scoble, Jay Baer and even Chris Brogan! You should definitely head over there to check it out. Gini mentions it looks and feels much like Facebook and I have to agree.

It’s similar to Facebook in the following ways:

  • Online friends and friend suggestions are on the home screen. 
  • Users share photos, videos, links or their location in the stream.
  • Share photo albums.
  • Profile pages
  • video chat (Facebook recently launched video chat thanks to Skype)

How it’s different:

  • Targeted sharing with various social groups called “circles“. Users easily drag and drop friends into different circles.  Circles can be for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and anything else you can think of.
  • There is a special photo tab where users can view, manage and edit photos.  Picassa will see all of their uploaded pictures here as well.  Google+ has an extremely cool image editor and you can also set your privacy options and sharing features.  There’s also an app available from Android that uploads all of your pictures to a private album.
  • Hangouts aka video chat is altogether different from anything I’ve ever seen.  Users click “start a hangout” and are instantly transported to a video chatroom alone.  A message goes out to their social circles letting them know their friend is “hanging out”.  Google’s internal testing has found that friends quickly join.  You can chat with up to 10 people! The large screen view switches between people as they speak and there is a box for text chat and sharing links.  
  • Huddles are included in the Google + mobile app and look like group texting.  Several people can chat among themselves.
  • Google created “sparks” to encourage users to share interesting content with their network.  The feature is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest.  The default list includes gardening, recipes, fashion, robotics and comics.  It’s best to enter your own interests to get the best possible results.
What it means to you and the legal industry

Google Plus is too fresh to make any assumptions on how it will affect legal marketing.  There’s a lot of buzz going around that it might replace Facebook but I’m not so sure.  Facebook has something like 600 million users and Google will have to come up with some pretty compelling features to steer them their way.  
For now I think Google Plus is geared towards single users and not companies. Ads aren’t supported and I haven’t seen a company page yet.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.  
I spoke with Robert Algeri today and he gave me some great insight.  Lawyers and law firms must first focus on the content before they start worrying about which social network to use. I agree. 
What do you think? Will you use Google + for advertising? 

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