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Okay, I’m Here….Now What?!

That is the first actual post I saw on my Google + newsfeed. The post also summed up my initial experience on the brand new social network, the first truly viable competitor to Facebook. Upon receiving an invite last week, I stared into my iPhone’s browser at http://www.plus.google.com (no iPhone app yet, folks). I felt like I was all dressed up with no place to go. But after setting up my profile and hunting around for my new Google + community, er, “circles”, the feelings of disappointment turned into curiosity and ultimately, intrigue.clip_image002A little background…Google + beta launched on June 28th to a select group of Google users. The industry has labeled this new venture as a thoughtful answer to Facebook and the grown-up Facebook. On the surface, the user experience is very similar to Facebook. In fact, what might appear unique are simply new, more interesting ways to label the same functions we all know and love on Facebook.

– +1 = Facebook’s “Like”

– Circle = Facebook’s Groups

– Stream = Facebook’s Newsfeed

There are a few notable differences, but perhaps the killer app of Google + is the ease in which you can organize your “friends” and ability to share content with people of similar interests. For this reason, some say Google + is for the more discriminating social user. Friends, Acquaintances, Family and Following make up Google + existing categories…but you can create a Circle of contacts with a common interest, no matter how niche. Let’s face it. No one wants to hear about the 14 miles you ran this weekend but your running group, right? And does your company CEO really want to be bothered with your Chihuahua’s newest outfit? Let’s send that to our “small dog enthusiast” Circle. And if you’re wondering, your contacts never see what Circle you put them in. Yeah!Making selective sharing easier could be the driving factor in Google + success as a viable alternative to Facebook. Speaking of Circles, a few GSD&Mers who have spent some time on Google + had this to say about the benefit of Circles…

“I’m very happy with Facebook except for the inflexibility with friends”

“I think Google + helps us be a bit smarter about what we share”

“The fact that you can drag your friends into different groups is nice for organizational purposes”

So how will Google + really stand up to Facebook? Will Facebook users (loyal or indifferent) migrate to Google +…or will they be a Google – ? Here’s what some GSD&M Google + ers had to say…

“I don’t want to start all over again. It might be nice to use Google+ as my “adult-ish” social profile, but I can’t imagine have another thing to check”

I will probably have a profile, I will probably play around on it, but I think I have enough time invested on Facebook right now not to jump ship entirely”

“I have no great preference for Facebook, but as long as that’s where everyone is, and there is no significant difference between the two platforms enticing people to leave Facebook, that’s where everyone will continue to be”

Only time will tell as Google + is still in initial stages, but the response after only two weeks has been impressive. Google + is now averaging 1 MILLION users added EVERY DAY and estimates currently stand at 10MM. Given that maintaining two social networks as immersive and time-consuming as Facebook is and Google + is shaping up to be, will Facebook users ultimately jump ship if enough of their “friends” and content shift over? Although it seems unthinkable for Facebook loyalists, anything is possible. Remember MySpace? Facebook will surely respond with improved functionality, but it will have to be hard-hitting and swift to stave off the inevitable exodus of discontented Facebook users looking for an alternative.

As for me, I echo much of the sentiments above. I’m eager to join in, participate and experience the true value of selective sharing over the next few months before committing to either Facebook or Google + .

Who’s with me?

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