Google +

Google PlusWhat keeps Google on top? Their ability to, and obvious lack of fear for, trying new things. Not every project is a success and not every service lasts. Remember Google Wave or Google Buzz? It seems that Google, once again, flexes its muscle to remind us that they are not just a search engine.

Hot on the heels of two recent rollouts (Google City Pages and Google +1), Google has launched Google+. In a nutshell, Google+ aims to do what we humans naturally do: compartmentalize our social life.

Google+ breaks down like this:

- Circles : A topic/category that you create (i.e.: bowling), then you add people to this group (the people you bowl with).

- Sparks: As with any group, you need something to talk about. Can’t think of anything? Google will use what they call SPARKS to “feed [the circle] highly contagious content from across the Internet.”

- Hangouts: Google’s less invasive answer to instant messaging. Let’s say you have a few minutes to talk bowling with your circle. Log into this video-chat option so others will know you’re available. According to the Google blog, “Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face.” Sound familiar? Yea, I call it Skype too…

- Mobile: Another service that will allow you to geo-tag your updates.

To be honest, this all sounds like a mash-up of several different social media services (Twitter, HootSuite, LinkedIn), but most notably…Facebook. Talk about a clash of the Titans…we’re looking at a combined user base of over 1 BILLION people worldwide!

While most of us don’t have Google’s funding, we can keep them in mind as a model. Try new things, keep up with the competition, and listen to what your users/consumers/customers are telling you.

If you, as a small business owner, were resistant to social media in the past, this may be the wake-up call you need. With more and more people using the Internet to connect to their world, can you afford to be the holdout?

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