Why Google+ might be here to stay


There has been a lot of talk about why Google+ will succeed or fail. Whether it will make a significant mark will depend on if it is relevant in the present Social Media market. I choose to call it a market because in the last year Facebook, Linkedin and some other players have shown the capacity to transact in real money as opposed to 'social money'. Some recent reports paint a promising picture for the future.

Here I breakdown the 'Google+ argument' from angles that are extremely important for business and individual needs:

Problem #1- Security 

Security is the #1 item on the list of risks with Social Media. Its not just Anthony Weiner’s social circle that is worried - parents, companies, politicians, celebrities…everybody is deeply concerned. In the last year there have been several published incidents of employee-employer relationships being strained due to inappropriate sharing of information. Unfortunately, teenagers are particularly vulnerable to publishing content that they shouldn't... and they are doing it as we speak. A simple Google search will reveal that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

So how does Google+ help?
I am not saying your data is highly secure with Google. It actually balances out evenly – Google has a lot of experience in dealing with security issues but they also have more data to protect than anybody else on the planet. One argument that Facebook might be telling others is – we can't stop people from sharing information. They shouldn't share what they shouldn’t share. That’s fair I’d say, but there is more to it than that. I don’t think Facebook or for that matter any of the other leading networks are doing enough to educate their users about the risk of sharing information online. In fact security features are usually hidden so you will not think about them unless you are specifically looking for them. Promoting ostrich syndrome?
It probably doesn’t make business sense to scare away users, but I don’t know what stops them from making it easier for users to manage their own risk. This is exactly where Google+ scores most of its points. Their security features are better managed and presented and that leads to better usage - which in turn reduces the risk of people accidentally sharing something that you don’t want to. Here is how they do it:
"Circles" = End-to-End integration of user-defined-groups
It is not just a pretty animation trick, Google+ packs a lot of punch in this functionality. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin clearly missed the bus on this. They were just too lazy, if you ask me. I refuse to believe that they were not aware of this need. I have friend or follower lists on Facebook and Twitter but I can’t use them to selectively share information. Personal information like pictures or phone numbers or email IDs or even news bites… needs selective sharing. 
I want to show my phone number to all my cousins and I don’t want to show it to the people I meet at public events. Currently if I try to do this on Facebook – I either have to display it to broad lists like ‘everyone’ or ‘friends’ or ‘friends-of-friends’ … or … I need to selectively add individuals to the approve/block list. How tedious is that? So what do I do? I block it from everyone. What if I want to selectively display email IDs to certain prospective customers? No matter how many lists I create for my Facebook friends – I can’t use them in my building a powerful and secure profile.
With Google+ I can: 
  ---  build highly customized circles like “casual friends”, “networking events”, “Priority 1  customers”, “High risk audience” … and easily display my profile details like email ID, phone number, location, websites, address etc. only with the circles I want (one or more circles)
   ---   easily share certain kinds of information only with the audience I want to. My casual friends may want to know how much I truly hate the new Harry Potter movie but my customers don’t. On the other hand, I would want to publish this analysis, for instance, to a broader audience.
Circles are not hidden like Facebook's security settings and lists. They are prominent and easy to use. Selective sharing can only work at a user-defined-group level. It can't work for fixed lists like friends / friends-of-friends and neither does it work at an individual level. Currently none of the leading networking websites provide this ability to their users. Twitter never paid too much attention to the profile page but Facebook and Linkedin have spent millions of dollars to design security features on the profile page and they still couldn’t figure this out or lets say haven’t paid enough attention to this. With twitter I can only broadcast information to all the people following me. This is likely to hurt them in the coming months. 
There is a lot more on how Google+ tackles other aspects of security and data management (which is incidentally #2 on the list of issues with Social Media). Keep watching this space. 

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous20.7.11

    security is awesome however the best feature i liked about G+ is - one can download the data you have uploaded till now once you say bye bye to G+

    -Ankur Anwekar

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hemangi26.7.11

    some security threats about circles :
    http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/bewaregoogle%2B-security-threats/443723/

    -Hemangi

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah this is the same as picasa. If you share any pictures with anyone and that person choses to share it with other people then they can view it. Facebook has a setting which a lot of people are not aware of - when I send in a friend request I start viewing their pictures and Facebook sends me an update everytime they change anything in their profile. And all this even when they have not accepted my invitation.

    I think they might be working on it since this is yet to be officially launched, but I still like the overall direction. Malware problems are huge on Facebook and twitter too. They not only post it on people's wall but also send pings/messages from real profiles (not fake profile, but people you know very well). Almost like as if the account has been hacked!

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