The team here at Uproot are a week-deep into using Google Plus so we thought we’d share our initial impressions.
Overall, it’s clear that Google’s latest attempt at social finally hits the nail on the head. Instead of building social tools (see: Wave, Buzz), Google has realized that they need to start at the root – building a social network. Of course attracting a network at a time where peoples’ time online is becoming increasingly scarce requires serious momentum. However Google appears to have succeeded in convincing people to come aboard due to two key reasons.
First, using the invite-model they employ when launching other products like Gmail to seed membership for Google+ has helped Google not only scale the service in a stable, systematic way but also create demand for it. Google+ invites appearing on eBay for auction shortly after its rollout are evidence of that. In a matter of weeks Google has managed to change the conversation from “What is Google+?” to “Aren’t you on Google+ yet?”. This can’t be underestimated. Google’s strategy for adoption is far from accidental and it is working.
An Elegant Experience
Once people sign on, the next trick is getting people to stay and that means getting people to connect and start sharing. Google’s take on managing and growing your network, Circles, is a master class in how to craft a tedious process into a familiar and almost enjoyable exercise. Dragging and dropping contacts into Circles feels natural and almost mischievous as you consider the surprising ways you organise the people you know. Circles form the basis for how you will share and engage on Google+ so it’s a task not taken lightly but the interaction design doesn’t make it feel like work. As new contacts join and you are notified of their arrival, adding them into Circles in one click is an elegant way to grow your network. It’s clear Google has considered the pain in creating a new network and worked to make it fast, simple and unobtrusive.
Google+ for Business
One thing that many folks have commented on is how the other components of Google+ – Sparks (topic-based content aggregation), Huddles (video-based chat rooms for your Circles), and the Stream – feel appropriate for an office network. It’s clear Google has thought along that line after asking brands not to sign up for Google+ at this time, implying a separate, enterprise flavour is in the works.
How sticky Google+ will be relies on how well it’s integrated into other popular Google services and how many people can be convinced that they need to split or increase their time online actively engaging in another social network. However, just the fact that Google is being mentioned with high regard for their user experience design is a huge step forward for them. From our perspective, the future seems bright for Google, + or no +.