Thoughts on Google Plus for the Wedding Industry

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

After playing with Google's new social media platform, Google Plus, for a bit, here are some initial thoughts:

Google Plus has the potential to be a game-changer but it's not there yet. Everyone thought that Froogle was going to change online shopping forever, but it didn't. Yet, people moved their email from AOL to Hotmail to Gmail, so Facebook being big isn't enough of a reason to deter people from switching social networks. MySpace was also huge and everyone claimed the masses wouldn't move to Facebook, yet they did. Currently, Google Plus reminds me of Facebook circa 2006 -- it's clean, it's peaceable, it's private. Whether or not it stays that way remains to be seen.

Facebook assumes that everything you say should be heard by everyone, which doesn't mimic how we have conversations in the offline world. Who talks about work all the time to every single person they meet? Sure, we all know people like that, and we can pretty much all agree that they're annoying. Most of us have interests outside of our careers. I have friends who I can talk politics with endlessly and friends who couldn't care less about the subject. Google Plus allows for these different conversations with circles. Basically, you can put the people you follow into circles -- friends, family, close family, extended family, wedding industry, etc -- and then choose which updates each circle sees. Don't want to share your vacation photos with everyone? You can select to share them with just friends and close family, but not colleagues or extended family. Don't want to bore your college roommates to tears with updates about your business? Share those notes with just your business-related circles. Another benefit Google Plus offers is that it allows people to be in more than one circle, so if you have personal friends who also work in the wedding industry, they can get updates from you on both areas. If you're as passionate about politics as I am, you can also create a circle specifically for running your mouth, which may be especially helpful with an election year coming up.

Perhaps my favorite part so far is that, like Twitter, you don't have to follow everyone who follows you on Google Plus. However, unlike Twitter, you can follow them and then add them to a circle that you can check as frequently or infrequently as your schedule allows. Tweetdeck allows for this functionality with Twitter, but I personally don't like using it. I'd prefer to have that functionality built in, which Google Plus does.

Google Plus is also a lot more private than Facebook or Twitter. You have the option to approve all tags on photos before the tag of you goes live. While your bio page stays public, your updates, photos, videos and followers/following lists can be set to various levels of privacy. Also, people can't see what circles you've added them to, so you don't have to offend someone when you relegate them to the "acquaintance" circle.

As for whether or not Google owns your photos, yes, right now their terms are written in a way that gives them license to use and sell any photos you upload. Facebook has similar terms.* Most services have these types of terms at first, and then they get changed. Remember when everyone freaked out when they thought Dropbox was going to sell your files? These terms are something to keep in mind, but not necessarily ones that should keep you from using the service altogether.

Do you need to be on it right now or can you wait since everyone you know is still on Facebook? If your clients tend to be early adopters, then yes, you should probably join sooner rather than later. If not, then it probably won't hurt anything if you wait. However, rumor has it that Google Plus will be introducing brand pages in the next couple of weeks, and if Google decides to give more favor to those pages in its search engine, then it's a good idea to have a presence there.

If you're on Google Plus, you can find me here.

*Update: I had earlier stated that Facebook had changed their terms, but here is how they are written:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

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