Q&A talks about the appeal of Google-Plus with Jason Sadler, founder of IWearYourShirt.com in Jacksonville, Fla. Sadler operates an on-line business and is a power user of social media platforms.
Q: There is a lot of buzz in the online world about Google Plus. What exactly is it and what makes it hot right now?
A: Google Plus (or Google+) is Google's jump into the social networking space. It's currently an invite-only platform, but they've taken features from multiple other social networks and are attempting to unify your social experience online. Like anything from Google, it's getting a lot of attention and it's hot because all the early adopters, myself included, are actually enjoying the platform. It's well designed, easy to use, well thought out and some of the features could change the way we interact on the web.
Q: A quick perusal of http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/ doesn't seem to reveal anything that revolutionary. Will Google Plus succeed because it brings a lot of different things together in one place?
A: I think Google+ will succeed because Google has made mistakes in the past and has learned from them. They're also simplifying many existing products (group text, video chat, social organization, content sharing, etc) and offering it for free without any bugs. Some people may join Google+ for the Hangout feature alone; 10 people video chatting at one time? That's extremely powerful.
Q: The Google Plus homepage talks about "connecting with people on the web more like connecting with them in the real world." People in the real world don't connect. So, what is Google really trying to accomplish with Google Plus?
A: I'm having more conversations with people I was already connected to on other platforms. I think it's easy for Google+ to look conversational right now because it's not flooded with spam and the people that are adding you to Circles are early-adopters. Everyone gets bogged down with all the selling on Twitter and the noise on Facebook. And again, the Google+ Hangout feature is very powerful because it lets you have a conversation with one or multiple people over video chat, and it even lends itself to complete strangers showing up (which I think can be good and bad). You don't have to meet at a local coffee shop, just turn on your video camera.
Q: Is Google Plus really in danger of making Facebook obsolete? It has a mind-boggling amount of members who are used to its way of doing things.
A: It was just released that in two short weeks Google+ amassed 10 million users. The really interesting thing about that number is that it's only about 1.5 percent of the users that Facebook has and I'd be willing to bet the majority of those users all have a Facebook account already. I'm not sure if Google+ is going to be the replacement for Facebook, but I'll be shocked if Facebook is still around in five years. Google+ is making some great strides, but I don't see it as direct competition with Facebook because I have a different group of friends/connections on each platform.
Q: You've posed the question of what will happen to all the small businesses that have invested significantly in creating a Facebook presence to connect with their customers. What can small businesses expect?
A: Right now, Google+ isn't openly allowing businesses to create accounts. That being said, business owners and employees should definitely be signing up for Google+ and interacting. Especially for small business owners, it will pay way more dividends if you engage with people on a human level, instead of trying to represent your brand/company. If you're interesting, have good content to share and partake in conversations; you're doing more for your business than any branded Facebook page could do for you.
Q: How will small businesses interject themselves into Google Plus? Will there be pages similar to Facebook or will they need to make major investments in Google advertising instead?
A: I'm curious how Google+ plans to handle branded accounts. My guess is that they're not going to follow Facebook's lead with pages and that they'll segment business accounts from your Circles. They've announced that they are working on features for businesses and will likely release them later this year. I do know that I am really enjoying the conversations that are happening free of pitches, coupons, deals and lots of marketing fluff. I'm not bringing any of my business to Google+, merely trying to engage with the community and create new relationships. I think small business owners should follow in the footsteps of those already on Google+ and do the same.