Search may finally meet social with Google+

I’ve grown up with my dad telling me  to “observe the masses and do the opposite.” I like to think that I follow this principle, at least for the big things. So naturally when Google+ was introduced last week, my initial reaction was 1) I’m not jumping on that bandwagon. 2) Another Google flop. Go Facebook, Go Team Zuckerberg.

But alas, here I am one week later and I’ve jumped aboard. Why, you ask? After reading numerous articles, from both sides of the coin, my curiosity peaked. I was intrigued–could this actually be a viable competitor for Facebook?

My opinion, having only been on the site for 2 or so days: YES. A big yes. It might even compete with Twitter. I’ve seen a few tidbits that remind me of both sites, but more so of Facebook. The smartest thing Google has done is create an invite-only release. I can’t tell you how many of my Facebook friends have posted statuses about Google+, either asking for an invite, bragging about an invite, or asking what the heck it is. This I never expected.

The mysterious intrigue Google has created by requiring an invite has somehow made the social network that much more attractive. People want to know, they want to be on the inside. And it’s working. For now.

Google+ definitely has a lot of changes to be made and it will take some time for full understanding, but I hate to say it Facebook: watch out. The real strength I believe Google+ has lies in its conjunction with the search engine. A big part of social media, according to Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics, is sharing recommendations with your friends/family/community. We may ask our Twitter followers or our Facebook friends, “What’s the best restaurant in X city?” or “Which site should I use for textbook rentals?”

Until now, these peer recommendations within social networks have been inaccessible to Google, and perhaps a form of competition. Instead of Googling “textbook rentals,” someone just posts the question as their Facebook status and receives personal feedback. With the introduction of Google+, all recommendations will be integrated with the search engine. So now instead of asking peers directly, you can Google “restaurants in X city,” and anybody in your Circles who have “+1ed” a particular link (Facebook’s version of “liking”), will show up. Or if you search “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II,” you’ll see how your Circles have reviewed the movie. Cool, right? Internet search may finally meet social networking–the best of both worlds for the individual user or end consumer.

I sincerely hope Facebook doesn’t go anyway anytime soon for a number of reasons, but as a future marketer, I’ve got to explore the up and coming. Time will soon tell.

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