Even in invite-only beta mode, Google+ has made a large impression in the social sphere. And at the risk of throwing off the obvious cheesy pun, the social network certainly has its pluses and minuses. To keep from ending this blog on a sour note, let’s examine where Google+ needs to improve, at least in the eyes of many users:
- The Name Game – Many are up in arms about Google’s insistence on opening accounts with real names. While irksome to individuals, advertisers and marketers who will eventually look to Google+ as a tool for brand advocacy should support the real name policy. It could ensure accurate targeting practices in the short- and long-term.
- Too Early to Launch – On some level, Google underestimated the degree of interest in its social network. Why else would it be launched with a user quota?
- +1 – Though Google’s answer to the Facebook Like is likely (yes another pun) to become a significant engagement tool, the limitations of the network are stymieing its functionality. Also, some in Search have expressed concern that it slows load times.
That’s the not so good news for Google+. But the social network has done something unprecedented. It has gotten under the skin of Facebook prompting it to make sweeping changes to its privacy and tagging capabilities. Google+ Circles allow people to pick and choose the things they want to share and the people they want to share them with. The circles graphically provide users with comfort and security; they can keep information in their own little bubble. The same couldn’t be said of Facebook – until now.
If asked whether these changes were a direct response to Google+, Facebook would likely hedge. But the lesson to be learned from these improvements is that social competition is a good thing. It brings out the best in each network and promotes continuous improvement of functionality for users, advertisers and marketers.