What does Google+ mean for business?

The latest shiny thing in the online world is Google+, the search engine monolith’s latest attempt at a social networking service. What does it mean to the average user? Google+...

The latest shiny thing in the online world is Google+, the search engine monolith’s latest attempt at a social networking service. What does it mean to the average user?

Google+ differs from most social networks – particularly Facebook – in that you can segment your online connections into different groups called circles so when sharing information such as comments, updates or photos you can choose to only let certain circles or individuals see those posts.

This addresses the biggest problem with social media; that what we share with our family is not necessarily what we want our friends or work colleagues to see, an issue identified by then Google designer Paul Adams, who has since moved onto Facebook.

At the core of Google+ is the Google Profile which is shared with most Google services such as Gmail and Blogger which gives rise to quite a few privacy concerns as those you share with can get access to this information, although this is the same with most other social media services.

Google+ has quite a few interesting features such as Hangouts which allow impromptu video conferences and Sparks which are random popups of things you might be interested based upon your search history and posts.

As a consumer product, Google+ doesn’t have the gaming and the social features that Facebook offers however that’s expected to change as the product develops.

For businesses, Google+ is off limits. Right now it is only open to individuals although we can expect that will change as Google integrate the product with their small business Places platform along with adwords and their online application service.

Right now Google+ is for the geeks and that’s why the tech media is talking about it. For the average home or business users it’s not quite ready to replace or complement Facebook or other social media services although it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it evolves.

The stakes are quite high for Google with this product as the overwhelming amount of data at every Internet user’s fingertips is seeing people seeking out sources they trust for answers, recommendations and advice. The social aspect of the online world is going to define the web in this decade just as search did in the previous decade.

For this reason, Google are going to be working hard on making sure Google+ is part of the social web, for the average user we’ll be choosing the tools we trust. It remains to be seen if Google+ is one of those tools.