You may have noticed that there’s a good bit of buzz about the Google+ Project. Right now, Google is testing their latest, greatest release with a small number of people. Invitations have gone out to the general public and capacity is maxed out. Suddenly, everyone wants in. And as the Google+ site claims, it’ll be a little wait (but not long) before the Project is open to everyone.
I’m reminded of the scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) where throngs of villagers have gathered outside the gates of Wonka’s mysterious factory – waiting for the doors to open, waiting for a glimpse. Waiting is the worst, isn’t it?
The Google+ Project is a social networking experiment and follows the launch of the Google +1 button (officially launched March 30th this year) that allows Google search users to “click” and recommend content, as well as help shape future search results for others. The Google+ Project is a multi-layered social networking environment that allows users to create “Circles” of friends around specific interests or events or affiliations.
For instance, Mr. Wonka may put Charlie, Violet, Augustus, Veruca and Mike into his circle of Golden Ticket Winners. He likes to keep them separated from the Oompa-Loompas who are all part of his Factory Labor circle. Just like in real life, some friends don’t easily mix with or extend to other circles.
Additionally, the Google+ Project allows you to create virtual hangouts using video chat (think Skype with multiple friends coming and going all the time). Google+ also allows group texting. With Instant Upload, you can send pics to your Google+ account from your mobile phone (a Picasa Web Album link is included). And, you can get streaming product content sent to your Google+ account based on your interests.
That last one – the bit about streaming product content – may be where the real money is made for interested businesses. Queue the scrambling villagers.
Every time the engineers in the Google Products Department release something new to the public, businesses and marketers alike run to the streets looking for their Golden Ticket. As successful businesses everywhere will attest, it’s not a bad thing to be an “early adaptor” to any new technology, especially if Google+ allows for all the new search and SEO opportunities that businesses and search engine marketers are wanting. How Google+ affects your rankings and how your content appears in Google+ remains to be seen.
But here’s the rub: If you’re a business, Google+ isn’t presently intended for you. And for all those businesses that have gone to great lengths to set up pages at other popular social media sites (Twitter and Facebook), this is obviously a concern.
The Google+ Project naming rules spell it out quite clearly:
“Google Profiles doesn’t support profiles for couples or groups of people. Additionally, you can’t create a profile for a non-person entity such as a pet or business. Google may continue to allow existing profiles that don’t meet these criteria, as long as the profile names are unchanged.”
So, at this time, pets and business owners wanting their own Google+ account are without options or recourse. But there’s no reason to panic. This is a field trial. Google is still fleshing out this project, and non-human entities are not part of the system that Google is currently testing.
In a recent article at Search Engine Land, Google group product manager Christian Oestlien affirmed that the Google+ Project is optimized for the individual use case and that “building great consumer products is a necessary prerequisite for compelling business products.”
To this, Oestlien added: “In the future we may want to enable Google+ to support businesses and brands, but we want to make sure we do that in the right way. The things that matter for an individual user aren’t the same things that matter for businesses.”
Note: It is, of course, highly interesting that both Search Engine Land and Mashable have already snuck in on human invitations and set up Google+ accounts. No further comment on that. UPDATE 12-2011: Both of these profiles have been taken down or made into personal accounts.
In the same Search Engine Land article, Google’s head of Commerce and Local Jeff Huber stated that business profile pages on Google+ are coming soon but declined to announce a launch date. The holdup? Making it great for the businesses that wish to use them. This is a good thing.
In short, Oestlien and Huber have told us what we want to know. It’s well known that Google has been trying to make inroads in the social media game. They’ve created something that they’re excited about. The Google+ Project Tour paints an attractive picture of the new product. Businesses and individuals alike are in for a little wait until all the bugs are cleared and the doors are flung open.
In the end, it would stand to reason that everyone will get their Golden Ticket. Oestlien and his contemporaries at Google aren’t fools. Social media generates much more revenue opportunity if you allow businesses to participate and people to favor them. Google offers a lot of quality products to the market that are free to use. Revenues are behind all of them.
The wait is on.