Google's last attempt at creating a social network to rival Facebook was called Google Buzz. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have ever really caught on.
However, if it's buzz you're looking for, there was certainly a lot of that after last week's arrival of Google+ (Google Plus). If you're not clear on what we're talking about, take a look at this short introduction video.
Invited users only - for now
The search giant's latest attempt to take on Facebook is only available to invited users at the moment, but I've taken a first look to see whether it can really rival Facebook.
Actually getting in is the first battle. A huge number of people want Google+ accounts, but it's tricky to get an invite at the moment. In fact, even if you've managed to snag one, the service is currently over capacity - so you can't try it out anyway!
That's far from ideal - and of course, even if you are one of the lucky few, without your friends and contacts on Google+ it can seem somewhat lonely and boring!
Google+ vs. Facebook: round one!
I have been lucky enough to get an early invite to Google+, and the one thing that hit me straight away was the potential for it to bridge the gap between home and work life. It could perhaps genuinely be the first 'all day' social platform.
Here are 10 reasons Google+ wins over Facebook every time:
- The interface just looks and feels more professional. It's that simple!
- It's easy to keep home and business separate without having to have lots of accounts. Google+ includes something called Circles, which is really easy to use. Watch this video to see how Circles work.
- Unlike Facebook, at the moment the streams seem more intuitive. For example, images are easier to review. You can quickly see streams by circle too, cutting out lots of noise.
- Google dominates search and this means Google+ will deliver an integrated platform. That means people will use it as a search engine and - dare I say it - a ‘homepage' from which they can base their internet life.
- Google knows advertising and has the data to create a rich, intuitive advertising platform. This will work well for users and advertisers as the ads should match people's interests well, and be delivered at the right time and in the best format (for instance, video for video lovers).
- Google is already way ahead in search. No matter what the social media gurus tell you, our friends only influence how we search. They do not deliver all our recommendations. Google's ability to link friends' behaviours with ours and show this when you search will make it even easier to find just what you need, when you need it.
- Google+ Sparks is another part of Google+. It's meant to find stuff you'll like, so when you have some spare time, there's always something for you to look at. It seems to be a great way to group people by interest, helping you find other people who are like you. And, of course, it'll help advertisers find and target groups of people.
- People don't like noise. Yet when we're online, we have to deal with a huge amount of it. Updates here, 'likes' there, images, video ... you name it! Google+ can help us block the noise and speak to the most relevant people at any time.
- It has all the features you'd find in Facebook. Sure, you can argue that they are different in many ways, but the main ideas are all there. Looking at the interface I'd say Google has done its user testing too, because it seems that all the things people hate about Facebook are missing!
- Quite simply it's Google. If they can learn from the failures they've had in social media (and they've had plenty), we can expect an intuitive, far-reaching bunch of tools, They could have the capability to pull our entire online life together in one place.
Having said all that, there's one thing to remember. We have seen this before from Google, more than once. And each time their new tool generated oodles of publicity, only to fall flat.
The company has a history of struggling with social media. But could this be the time they crack it? I'd say it just might be.