Google+, the Elephant in the Room

In a provocative piece on ERE the other day, Jody Ordioni argued that “Facebook will destroy LinkedIn.”

She offered five reasons for her thesis, with volume and the externalization of Facebook’s social graph as the main movers. Ordioni may be right.

Time will tell. In the meantime, there is an elephant in the room and its name is Google+. Launched late in June, it has already surpassed 25 million visitors, a rate of adoption far exceeding the growth curve of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or MySpace.

At last count, the service was growing at the unrivaled rate of about 1 million visitors a day, a number which does not include mobile users. Despite some conflicting reports, engagement with the site was increasing at double-digit rates.

How sustainable this will be is certainly open to question, even if those Google+ buttons are showing up everywhere. A Forbes post pointed out that few people are socializing there yet. “Most of those who have gone there have found it to be an empty room.”

Part of the initial allure of Google+ was exclusivity. You had to be invited to join. Now, you don’t. Google also leveraged its immensely popular Gmail service, integrating it with Google+ so that Gmail users get to jump start their social network.

Certainly, there’s no guarantee of success. Google’s other forays into social media — Groups, SidiWiki, and Orkut in particular — never gained much traction. However, there are some significant differences in how Google is approaching social networking that make Google+ worth watching, and joining. And chief among these is that Google+ is flexible and versatile.

I’m not going to detail in any depth what I consider to be its greatest virtue and value: Google+ Circles. The accompanying piece does an excellent job of explaining Circles, how to use them, what their value is, and even some of the pitfalls.

For the purposes of this primer on Google+ I’ll only note that Circles lets you segregate your “friends” and contacts in a logical manner.

The problem with Facebook is that everyone is a friend with the same access and privileges to your profile and wall as your mom. Ditto at LinkedIn.

The reality is that Facebook friends include close, intimate, friends; and social friends; and casual acquaintances; and even a few people recommended by other friends who would otherwise be strangers.

Recognizing this social hierarchy, Google+ enables you to put people into whatever buckets you choose. Communicate with one person, one circle, a few circles, or everyone.

Now, instead of switching among LinkedIn for business, and Facebook for fun, Google+ offers a single go-to location. It was this ability to categorize acquaintances and contacts that makes StartWire such a desirable tool for job-hunters.

The advantages for recruiters should be obvious: Circles are your various pipelines, giving you a freedom the other sites just don’t.

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But Google+ offers more. It connects with Google Docs so you can link out to whatever kind of document you want, including a resume, a whitepaper, exclusive listings, or something you don’t necessarily want to post on Plus’ equivalent of a status update.

Its Hangouts tool is video conferencing for one-to-one or multiple-user conversations. It’s mobile enabled, so you’re not tethered.

Need to message everyone in a Circle so they’ll get into Hangouts at the same time for a chat? Then use Huddle, instant messaging for your Circles.

Sparks is Google’s version of LinkedIn’s news feed, only broader and more flexible. Pick your subject, Sparks creates a feed that becomes a channel on your Google+ profile. Click the channel and see what’s there. Then share it as you want.

Everything is mobile enabled. Or maybe it was all built for mobile and is desktop enabled. Either way, everything works smoothly on Android phones (no surprise there). One especially nice touch is the Instant Upload, which adds photos you take with your phone to a private album in the cloud.

Getting started with Google+ is a snap, especially if you already have a Google account. Just log in and you can start building a network right away; simply import your Gmail contact list by clicking on the “Friends” link. Sort these contacts into whatever groups are right for you. Contacts can be placed into more than one group.

Complete as much of your profile as you want or, if you already have a Google profile, import it, and off you go. Google Profiles, by the way, is disappearing into Google+.

Google is adding features and versatility to Google+ on a near weekly basis. Games got added last week. And soon, Google will be adding services for businesses.

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John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


10 Comments on “Google+, the Elephant in the Room

  1. Very good points, John. Google+ is so new, and currently devoid of brands, that I’m not sure what effect it will have in the recruiting industry — but it will definitely have an effect, even if it’s just to spur Facebook, LinkedIn, and others to continue improving. After all, Google is a powerhouse of innovation with deep pockets. We look forward to great things.

  2. John,

    Great article as always.

    A couple of additional thoughts.

    People can now build two circles on the Facebook platform. They can usual original Facebook for a “Personal” circle and using Monster’s BeKnown, build a “Professional” circle too. It’s hard to ignore a platform that has 750 million users. Smart careerists will learn how to use Facebook to their advantage.

    I have two wishes for Google+.

    The first is that they build a real mobile app. The current app has extremely limited functionality.

    The second is that they open the API to developers. I’m waiting for apps that make G+ easier to use.

    Right now, to fully use G+, I have to be in front of my computer. That’s a huge fail on Google’s part. The sooner they fix their usability issues, through their own actions and developers, the more successful they will be.

    Donna Svei

  3. Segmentation (segregation as you call it) is a huge differentiators with G+. As staffing professionals being an “early adopter” in past years was pretty risky, now with SM 2.0/3.0, etc. it is essential for success. It was not too long ago Myspace was a major player, with a huge valuation, then ultimately settled for a meager buyout. Thanks for sharing.. Best to ALL..

  4. My main observation/concern related to articles speculating or proclaiming that any particular site or tool may overtake any or all others, is that there seems to be a misleading presumption that the membership base of each site is mutually exclusive.

    From what I can tell, the majority of people actively or inactively using any social media accounts seems to overlap amongst several of these sites. For example, many people that I regularly interact with personally and professionally are using LinkedIn, Facebook (including BeKnown & BranchOut), Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, along with countless other SM labels.

    When it comes to talent pools, I find it puzzling when someone says that the best, top talent is found on (fill-in-the-blank) site, not (alternative fill-in-the-blank) site. These comments are usually based on their subjective opinion due to their target demographic and anecdotal evidence rather than any correlation or understanding of the overall membership of any particular site.

    While it is certainly interesting to try to predict what will happen next, I don’t see that much of a drastic shift taking place at this point. It will most likely be a blend of tools being used versus stopping/dropping one in favor of another. That, combined with a gradual migration out of curiosity to the freshest bells and whistles, will be driven by whichever site(s) evolve and innovate according to user preference and market demands.

  5. We all compare SM sites….but the thing is you never know where your next social media generated lead or client is coming from be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, G+ or your blog. I anxiously await brands on G+ because at this point unless you are in Tech, or a heavy social media early adopter it gets boring quick. Watching the social media superstars posting a photo of the dinner and their followers fawning over them gets old quickly. What G+ needs more than anything is a more diverse and active user base. Hopefully brands will bring that.

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