Google+: search engine powerhouse launches social media network

2011-06-30 00:00

FACEBOOK has some serious competition for the first time since the launch of the social network.

Google+ was launched in tentative fashion this week and is an attempt by the search engine powerhouse to make a name in social media.

Digital pundits are debating whether this is Google’s attempt at breaking Facebook’s stranglehold on the industry.

But the project’s engineering lead, Vic Gundotra, and product lead Bradley Horowitz said this is not so. Rather, it is a way to enhance online user experience by more accurately mimicking how people interact in real life.

What makes it different from Facebook?

Google+ has “Circles”. This means users can share content with the right people. Family, work colleagues and Friday night party peeps could be three distinct circles, giving greater control over who sees what. Now bosses won’t be able to see those embarrassing photos or friends’ comments from the weekend.

Another feature is “Sparks”, which is a content aggregator. A user can search specific content, have it gathered as a topic and then share it with the circles.

“Hangout” is what many commentators, including Danny Sullivan, a blogger with Search Engine Land, and M.G. Siegler of TechCrunch, are saying is the big drawcard for Google+. This is a video chat group that allows up to 10 users to interact simultaneously. Friends can now have an interactive, visual chatting experience.

Imagine Skype but pumped up on steroids. Friends hanging out can also simultaneously watch a video.

Like Facebook’s newsfeed, Google+ has “Stream”, which shows real-time updates. “Stream” can be filtered to control what can be seen by others.

Google+ has been a hot Twitter topic, but most lowly digital junkies can read only what the chosen few have written.

It is currently accessible by invitation only, but these early users should be able to share it with their friends soon, according to E.B. Boyd of Fast Company.

Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land thinks the slow roll-out is to create some “pent-up demand” for the new digital plaything.

After Google’s failed entry into social media last year with “Buzz” it is again trying to integrate social media strategies into its search methodology.

Read more at www.searchengineland.com, www.wired.com and

www.techcrunch.com.

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