I, like many others, have been trying to figure out the point of Google + over the last few months. In a world where Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare have all established their raison d’être, the majority of Google + users are still trying work out what purpose it serves. The answer could, arguably, be the one thing that all social networks have been dreaming of… the holy grail called ‘engagement’.
At this point, I suspect a few of you – actually, most of you – will be frowning! Your Google + streams are far less active than any of your other social networks – it’s a place many people go only when they remember. Most will be visiting to see whether it’s more active than the last time they visited. Right now, the answer is probably not.
But, there’s one application that I’m starting to use more and more… and I think it’ll become the most critical social application for both consumers and business users within the next few years – Google Hangouts. Not tried a Hangout yet? You should – and I suspect it’ll become an integral part of your personal and business lives in the next few years… here’s why:
- A statistic I read this morning claims that 51% of traffic on the internet is non-human. What better way to know that the person you’re talking with is real than via video?
- The power of the real-time web has been vaunted with the growth of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare… it won’t get more real-time than Google Hangouts!
- You don’t need to be mutual friends, or followers, or use a specific OS or device to hang out. If you seen an interesting hangout you can join it. They can also be promoted via links on other social networks to find people that are outside of your circles. Want true engagement… give me real-time face-to-face chat.
- Want to know who’s credible and who’s not on any given topic? With video you’ll get to see and hear the person in order to explore the depth of their knowledge – rather than relying on third-party pseudo-scientific metrics.
- Need to take a quick poll of interested and knowledgeable third-parties on a given subject? Google Hangouts gives you the facility to do it quickly and easily and gather qualitative, as well as quantitative, data.
- How about a webcast or conference, or just chat with friends – on demand? Why not hang out?!
So, while some have questioned the longevity of Google + – I, myself, have wondered whether it may go the way of Wave [you’d forgotten about that, hadn’t you?!] – it may well have the killer social app. and is just waiting for users to catch up!