If you haven’t heard of Google+ by now, well… you should really Google it!
After several failed attempts to get in the social media game (R.I.P. Google Buzz and Google Wave), they may finally have gotten it right. Rather than replicate models already kicking butt, they have created something completely different – not necessarily replacing Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but giving us new tools to digitize the natural, social behaviors that we exhibit In Real Life (IRL).
First of all, in real life, we’re all a lot more similar to Batman than we think, in that we all – to some extent – have “alter egos.” By day, we’re Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and Diana Prince but after hours, we lead private lives that most of us like to keep safely compartmentalized. That’s why most people have both a LinkedIn and a Facebook account. That’s why your LinkedIn profile picture is a headshot of you in a suit and your Facebook profile picture is you holding your kids, or your dog (or maybe a pint). We all have different “circles,” and Google has picked up on that.
Google+ has a feature called “Circles” which they describe as a way to “share different things with different people.”
“Sharing the right things with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another and your boss in a circle all on his own – just like in real life.”
This is key for professionals at all ages and stages of life, because it offers a way to easily compartmentalize without suffering an identity crisis.
Beyond this, Google+ just might shape up to be an incredible business tool to suit the modern, social workplace – a welcome compromise between LinkedIn and Facebook.
Of particular interest is a feature they’re calling “Hangouts.” It’s Google’s social answer to the conference call. Meant to be a quick and easy way for unplanned meet-ups, this could easily be used to replace face-to-face business meetings in times when both environmental and economical concerns call for less travel and more efficiency.
Designed with group chats in mind, the coolest thing about Hangouts is that it picks up on whoever is speaking and gives them “centre stage,” displaying the speaker on screen for all to see.
Other great features include “Huddle” for mobile group chat, “Instant Upload” (which is pretty self-explanatory but neat, nonetheless) and “Sparks” which acts as a syndicator and filter, channeling relevant information based on interests defined by you. The Google+ website uses food, fashion and music as examples, but this can easily translate into a business environment where one has to monitor information that impacts their field of work or industry – one could enter “Human Resources” or “Banking” or “Telecommunications” or any other topics of interest.
With their interactive tours, Google does a much better job of explaining all this and conveying the “cool” factor. Check it out!
The real question is, will this change the way we view “social” at work? Will HR professionals cringe at the sight of it, or will they embrace it? Will employers block the site, or encourage its use? Will it transcend the airtight barriers we place between Work and Real Life? Only time will tell… but I think this has some real potential.
Tell us what you think – leave a comment below!