If 2011 was Facebook’s year, I’m betting that in 2012 the spotlight will shine on Google+. Why, you ask? Well, take their (unofficial) growth statistics for example.
As reported by Paul Allen, Google+ is adding approximately 625,000 new users per day! Allen is also predicting that the network will reach over 400 million members by the end of the year.
Furthermore, with the recent rollout of Google+ Pages, brands of all sorts can now take advantage of the Google+ platform. In fact, if you don’t already have a Google+ Page for your brand, I strongly urge you to set one up today (and add us to your circle while you’re at it).
You see, since Google+ is still in the early adopter stage, it is the perfect time to stand out from the crowd and attract a loyal fan base. Once everyone else hops on the bandwagon (which will probably be pretty soon), the early adopters will already have their roots in place on what could amount to the first significant challenger to Facebook.
The most interesting part of the whole Google+ platform, is that it is fully integrated with one of the most well-known products in the world, Google Web Search. With that type of leverage, Google has a significant advantage against anyone else who wanted to get in the social networking business.
However, I don’t think the top executives at Google view Google+ as a “social network” in the traditional sense. As Nikesh Arora, Vice President and Chief Business Officer at Google recently said in response to a question, “Google+, for us, is not a social network. It is a platform which allows us to bring social elements into all the services and products that we offer.”
And this is Google’s advantage. In order to compete with Facebook on the social level, they don’t need to create another social network; they merely have to integrate their existing core group of products with fun and engaging social elements.
Google has many things working for them right now, including the very popular Chrome web browser and the Android mobile operating system. Google+ will soon be a mainstream product, but it won’t be something we utilize in a similar fashion to Facebook.
Rather than use Google+ to directly socialize and connect with friends, Google+ will be a part of our everyday online experience. Every time we search for something on Google or watch a video on YouTube, we will have the option to engage with our friends through Google+. That’s a pretty lofty vision for sure, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.