Is Google+ the New Facebook?

by Cara -

Apparently, from the buzz in the office, the new hip kid on the 'social media block' is Google+. What exactly is it, you ask? Basically, its an aggregation of a bunch of other social media services that we already use - Google just wants to do them better. Some people are saying that Google+ might rival Facebook - I, however, am a little skeptical. I honestly just don't see Google+ taking down the Facebook Giant. You never know though, the world of social media moves quickly... the minute I post this, Google+ could explode and take Facebook out with one swoop. It does have some neat features - one cool thing is that you can decide at any time if information belonging to a certain group is not of concern to you. In other words, you can consciously decide to ignore specific content that you don't want cluttering or interfering with your life - for instance work-related information while you are away on vacation :-)

From Circles, to Sparks, to Hangouts, and more, Google+ is comprised of several different features that are said to "bring your real-life sharing and connections to our online world." David Pogue's review of Google+ on the NY Times was quite favorable - he especially likes the "Circles" option - which he calls a "brilliant, towering difference" from Facebook. "Creating them [circles] is a blast: an array of tiles represents your online acquaintances, which it assembles from your Gmail and other accounts. You drag each one into an actual on-screen circle, where they tumble into place. You can drag a person into more than one circle, of course. The lucky encircled friend will know that you've added him or her to a circle, but not which one, thank heaven," writes Pogue. "From now on, every time you share something - a news item, a thought, a photo, a chat invitation - you can specify exactly which Circles receive it. In one fell swoop, Google has solved the layers-of-privacy problem that has dogged Facebook for years."

On the other hand, many are taking the stance that Google+ is just another social media experiment doomed to fail. Forbe's Chunka Mui plays devil's advocate to Pogue in his article "Why Google+ is Poised to Fail." "In spite of its visual charm and better privacy architecture, Google+ is actually pretty weak at facilitating group formation," says Mui. "Google+ has basked in an aura of exclusivity because access, at this point, depends on an invitation from another user. But this viral signup technique has little to do with 'friends' in the Facebook sense. Information is only shared when two users' self-defined circles overlap, i.e., I put you in one of my circles and you put me in one of yours. But this organizing capability is really more like managing Twitter feeds, as opposed to a direct attack on Facebook."

What does everyone else think out there? Will Google+ become the new Facebook? Our team is testing it out for themselves - find Bastian Woelfle, Florian Alcrecht, Peter Schlossnikel, and Leon von Tippeelskirch on Google+ and see what they think of this new social media project. And, if you haven't tried out Google+ yet, or know nothing about it, here's an in-depth article and video explanation of its features - Google+ 101. Test it out and decide for yourself - Google+ or Facebook?