For advocacy nuts like us, there are some exciting new technology developments bubbling away at the moment. The Google+ project is one of them. On a personal note I’m just excited that someone has the balls to take on the monster that is known as Facebook.
Described as a ‘social project’ Google+ is set to bring with it some well thought out features that will certainly impact how people create WoM for brands.
The ‘Circles’ feature allows users to segment their social groups into categories. While this is nothing new (Facebook currently allow you to create ‘lists’ so you can tailor who you speak to) it is certainly a lot more intuitive. Users simply drag & drop their friends into different circles making the whole process a lot more fun.
From a WoM perspective this feature really interests me. I wonder will it increase the number of shared recommendations about brands in social media now that you can ensure you’re messaging is relevant? Basic principles of WoM dictate that people naturally target recommendations about brands ONLY to those friends / family that they know will be interested in the subject matter. I’m not going to tell my pop-loving friend about the new metallica album now am I? That would just be idiotic. The psychology behind this is kind of obvious if you think about it – by tailoring your messages, you are reinforcing how well you know that person.
The Circles feature will give users the opportunity to spread the word about subject matters they may have otherwise avoided talking about to their entire social network so this will open the doors to an increase in branded WoM recommendations.
Sparks is a feed of only the things that you’re interested in. The idea being that when you get some downtime you’ll have a plethora of ‘interesting’ content to devour and share with your friends. This once again puts the power in the Google search algorithm to accurately determine those things that really are interesting. With the introduction of Google+1 though we may see a slightly more democratic process as consumer recommendations start to play a part in determining content value & relevance.
Group Video Chat
Group video chat to date is pretty clunky. Plus there’s something slightly unnatural and awkward about organising a group video chat with your buddies. The Hang Outs feature attempts to turn such an occasion into something more natural and spontaneous. Users ‘start a hangout’ when they feel like being social, this notifies their networks who can then ‘drop by’ and join the video conversation if they’re in the mood. There’s something a bit more socially acceptable about this kind of spontaneous ‘drop by’ and google assure us that ‘friends quickly join’ when the pressure is off. It will be interesting to see how much traction this gets and how many of the conversations focus on brands.
‘Instant upload’ removes a share-barrier by auto-uploading your photos for you (when taken through the Google+ app). This is a great benefit as I consider ‘uploading photos’ to be one of the more tedious sides of social media. This I predict will definitely increase photo-sharing – therefore there’s an opportunity for brands to increase ‘branded-photo’ sharing due to the removal of this barrier.
‘Huddle’ seems so obvious that it’s almost not interesting. I mean seriously – has no-one done this before? Group text messages. No brainer. I can see the event-planner-group-email moving over into the SMS channel. And it’s about time too!
Will the Google + project hold it’s own against the Facebook goliath in the battle of the century? It’s hard to tell at such early days…one thing’s for sure it will be a fight worth watching