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Welcome back to Google+ chat. I’m sure that by this point, you’ve already read two or three hundred blog posts about what G+ means, where it’s going, how it’s changed, what it means, and how its either killing Facebook or it’s going to fail spectacularly. It falls into the category of things no one really knows about and thing everyone wants to talk about.
Here’s my take on it so far:
1) When users talk, Google listens
There have been a few changes (large or small) that have been made already due to user feedback. The biggest is probably the ability to make your gender in your profile private. A large and ranging conversation about why people would want to keep that information private happened on the site and included the team at Google’s feedback. Thankfully Google listened to user concerns.
2) The Google+ team is chatty
If you drop them in one of your circles you’ll be able to follow along with a lot of the conversation about how G+ is growing and changing. They’re very interested in keeping users in the loop and getting feedback about what’s going on. Being a part of that conversation has been really fun.
3) The Google Plus team is dedicated to the “interact with a “real” person” thing
Despite some pushback on having to use your real name, Google has stood firm. They’ve seen how anonymity effects conversations on other websites and have learned that forcing people to use their real names is a way to hold people responsible for their actions and limit trolling.
On the other hand, there are two groups of people with legitimate concerns who don’t want to be forced to use their real names. The first are people who already have a web presence based on a user name that are worried that people won’t be able to find them using their real names. The second are people who are uncomfortable making their real name “public” in that sort of forum. There are lots of reasons for people to feel that way (harassment being just one of them) and I’ll be interested to see how Google handles this.
4) People are looking for flaws
Personally, I don’t think this is a bad thing, nitpicking a product is part of the beta testing process, but a news story about Google’s copyright rules in the terms of service made it seem like Google was taking ownership of any picture or video put up on the site. This story left out a couple of very important sentences from the TOS which made it clear that Google was just saying that they can use what you upload other places.
5) Lots of changes are coming quickly
The things they learned and the feedback they got in the first few weeks are driving a lot of changes to the service. Right now, all the talk is about further integration with gmail, which I definitely want to see. But not as much as I want to see integration with Reader.
6) Business pages are coming, but they aren’t here yet
A number of brands had created Google Plus pages (Sesame Street, Mashable, and others) and have either had their pages taken down or have been forced to tie those pages to an actual person. This means that there are limited marketing opportunities on Google+ right now. Unless someone in your company wants to use their Google+ page as the channel for your company, you’re going to have to wait for the business pages.
Those pages are in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to see how they incorporate Google Places pages (the listings for business you see in the search results) and all of that. It’s going to be interesting learning how to incorporate them into a larger marketing strategy.
By the way, if you want to move all your facebook photos over to G+ and you use Chrome as your browser? Someone put together a chrome extension that does that. Find it here.
Next month, I hope I’ll be telling you all about how business pages work at Google Plus, otherwise I’ll have to think of a new idea for a blog post.