Google+ Got You Going in Circles?

The sort-of soft-launch, of the sort-of beta, of the almost-ready-to-go Google+ is underway. Millions have been asked to participate as testers, and millions more have been invited to join over the last few weeks as the next best thing since Facebook hits the market. The big question: Will this whole thing ever catch on? And if it does, what does that mean for marketers?

So far, Google+ has only really introduced features they feel are an improvement upon Facebook, the 800-lb gorilla in the social sphere. One of the biggest nuances is the use of “circles” versus lists for simple grouping of friends, family and co-workers. This allows easier sharing with select groups. This is a nice feature but hardly enough to get the approximately 750 million Facebook members to switch to Google+. Early adoption is already taking place but moving the masses will be the challenge.

From my perspective, the opportunity lies in the power of Google’s other services.  For starters, you’re tied into Gmail while on Google+, offering easy access to an already trusted communication tool. Add a sprinkle of Google Maps, a dash of media and games from Google Wave and Buzz, a touch of Google Offers for daily deals and you have the recipe for successfully attracting consumers. The cherry on top will be access to Google Apps and mobile integration.

So far, from my personal experience with the platform, the “circling” of specific groups and ability to combine Facebook and Twitter messaging tools makes Google+ intriguing. As a marketer, though, what remain unanswered is how they aim to tackle profile pages for businesses and what advertising options will exist.

Recently, Christian Olsten, a product manager on the Google Plus team, posted: “We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we’ve seen some really great companies get involved. But frankly we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford for his (or was it her?) gender!” To put it gently, this doesn’t sound like they’re quite ready for advertisers yet.

What is set, though, is the opportunity for marketers like us to utilize the product as a consumer to see the possible platform benefits for your business and clients. So, be an early adopter or search the web to get invited by someone who is and check out “Hangouts,” send out a “Stream” update to your co-workers, hold a meeting via Google Talk and most of all … get a grip on those “Circles.” Give it a shot and share your thoughts with us!

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