Happy birthday, Google Plus! Two years ago today, Google launched its own social platform, hyped as the network that would make Facebook obsolete. That hasn’t happened, and is unlikely to, but G+ has done a lot of things well and is rising in popularity. It’s the second largest social platform (behind Facebook) with 500 million members, and as many as 350 million of them are active monthly. And it’s grown by 27 percent in the past three months.
I’ve been a fan of G+ since the beginning, and I prefer its design and functionality over Facebook and Twitter. When it first launched, I played around with my personal account for a while, and then on the first day company pages were made available, I launched the page for Children’s National Medical Center. Getting an early start and being chosen as a featured nonprofit has allowed Children’s National to attract more than 270,000 followers (compared with 25,000 on Facebook and about 24,000 on Twitter). Of course, it’s not a popularity contest and not just about numbers. We continue to have the greatest engagement and conversions on Facebook, where we have a more loyal (and more local) following. Each of these networks adds value in their own ways. (Read my post from August 2011, “Should Hospitals Add Google+ to their Social Mix?“)
In Ad Age Digital, B.L. Ochman writes, “Google+ Turns Two: You Can’t Ignore It for Another Minute.” One of the big advantages of G+, she writes, is the power and ease of Hangouts On Air. I remember organizing webcasts nearly 10 years ago, before things like GoToMeeting were available. They were expensive, complicated, and you needed technical consultants to pull it off. Today, with Hangouts on Air, you or your organization can broadcast to thousands of people with virtually no sophisticated technical skills and NO COSTS. Of course, you still need to promote your broadcast if you want to have an audience, but the actual execution of a public broadcast is simple and free. Score 1 for Google.
G+ has also paved the way for improvements to other networks, most notably its intuitive organization of circles. What many people didn’t realize then was that you could include or exclude anyone on Facebook too, but it wasn’t as easy or user-friendly. Facebook has made some improvements to make it easier to share with specific people or groups, but even after many rounds of updates, it’s still not as simple as what G+ started with on day one.
On Mashable, Jennifer Warren offers “Google+ at 2 Years: An Assessment.” I agree with Jennifer that “Google+ is not a ghost town. By the same token, the service doesn’t have the immediacy of a Twitter or the ubiquity of Facebook. Still, for certain types of content and certain groups of users, it’s the best sharing platform on the web.” Two years after its launch, I still say G+ has the highest quality content of the three platforms.
Twitter is instantaneous. Facebook is where most of my friends and family are. But I get more knowledge, insights, and professional value from G+. Unlike Google Buzz and Google Wave, it’s proven that it has staying power, and — have you noticed? — it still has no advertising.