Google+ is headed for 20 million members by this weekend, and, depending on who you talk to, it's either an epic success or an epic failure. But I think many of my esteemed colleagues are looking at Google+ from the wrong point of view.
Everyone is writing about circles, privacy, hangouts, and whether people will switch from Facebook to Google+. But much more interesting stuff is and has been going on behind the scenes. Brands, publishers and agencies should take note and prepare to participate.
The real meat of Google+
The real meat of Google+ is in Profiles , mobile payments, and authorship claims -- all of which are going to solidify Google's dominance (ComScore reports it's the first company ever to hit 1 billion unique users a month) as the world's best damn search engine, online, in the cloud, and in mobile. You'll find me on Google+ here.
I think Facebook will continue its dominance as a social scene, and Google+ will become the dominant social network for business. Sure there are glitches in Google+ features now, and there'll be more. But Google is listening and already changing and adapting to what people want within the Google+ beta. They're thinking way beyond today, into a future where all online content will be integrated, and the semantic web will be in full effect.
Google says that claiming authorship of your content "gives Google what we need to better identify you as the author of web content." When Google detects content you've marked as yours, they'll list that content on the +1 tab of your Google Profile (they'll do this automatically as soon as you've +1′d at least one webpage). As Search Engine Journal notes, at the very least, though, it's phenomenal news for those who write.
I believe Google's use of the +1 button to identify authorship of online content will be a sea change in search, in influence building, and in online reputation management. Google already has the Google Checkout payment system and merchants already show up in searches for products.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks open to businesses, Google already has built-in productivity apps for enterprise, including email, in use by more than 200 million Gmail users, plus more than 3 million businesses using its Apps. Google has announced that Apps will undergo some sort of massive version change on July 19, and that surely will be related to Google+.
Ufuk Kayserilioglu reports that Google confirms that it already is testing some interfacing of Google+ with Google Apps and they've already begun to offer additional email storage upgrades for a fee.
How to get your business ready for Google+:
- While businesses are asked not to create a profile on Google yet (and ones that do will find them deleted) you should be adding the Google +1 button (Google's version of the tweet this or Facebook like button) to your websites, blogs, content and ads. It is likely that these "votes of confidence" from users will show up on their Google+ profile pages and be integrated into Google's search rankings' secret sauce. These are already being incorporated into Google search-engine results.
- Apply for a Google+ Entity Profile to be part of the beta testing of including brands in the Google+ experience.
The biggest negative
The biggest negative I see is that integration of Google+ features (circles, email, documents, photos, chat, hangouts, etc.) will let Google know even more about what we search, who we interact with, what we like, where we go and with whom (calendar, maps, directions) and our search results will adapt to those preferences, which is the opposite of what I want search to do. This is a very dangerous trend that could have huge political, social, and business implications.
Issues are complex
The issues are complex, and it's way too soon to write Google+ off as a failure, say it doesn't matter, or to think it's the holy grail.
The one thing that 's for sure is that it's one of the more interesting social concepts to come along in a long time. And you can bet Mr. Zuckerburg is burning the midnight oil this week wishing he couldkill Googlewith his great big hunting knife.