The biggest battle that Google faces in the social media arena is how to convert people from existing social platforms to Google's social platform. Facebook is already the established social network. Friends are already there. Family photo sharing and tagging already happen naturally and with ease. Twitter has celebrity buy-in. The Mass Media are legitimate advocates for twitter and advertise their twitter pages at no cost to twitter. No one likes change. So what can Google+ offer to entice the Facebook or Twitter user to jump ship? What can make Google+ enticing enough for the average Joe to risk the pain of learning and setting up a new system? Will Grandma be enticed to try the Google Plus?
No Webcam, No Play.
The Google Plus Hangout has got to be one of Google+ best features. In the social media race that Google is attempting to join, this stand-alone feature has an edge on all of the competition. While Facebook offers a Skype-based video chat, it's limited to one-on-one video. Way to go Google! You have finally beat out Facebook with a multi-user video chat. Grandma may be willing to visit Google Plus just to hangout with the family, but it will most likely be a short visit and only from time to time. And those visits are likely to stop when Facebook beefs up it's chat to allow multi-user video as well.
Run Down of Features in Google Plus Hangout -
- Video camera view changes to user speaking auto-magically.
- 10 users can chat at once. (works well with good connection. 2 second delay w/ poor connection)
- You can manually select a user to watch by clicking on their icon. (Green box highlights who you are watching. Click them again to un-watch)
- You can mute others. (Warning: users are notified when muted. And muting is for the whole group. Users can un-mute themselves and only they have the ability to do so.)
- Report Abuse. (Please only report real abuse... they take abuse reports seriously.)
Bugs that Need Improvement
The creator of the chat should have the ability to turn on/off mics and moderate. While it is nice to able to mute others, it's a bit annoying that the creator of a hangout can be muted by anyone showing up. The creator should not be mutable by others; only self censorship. The moderator should be able to kick people out of the hangout. It's annoying that there is no vote off the island button. But don't mind me, I am just a pest control guy that likes to find the bugs.
In the Google Plus Corner:
While many are shouting "Google can't do a social site", I would argue that they already have huge successes within the social media realm. YouTube is a social media platform. Blogger is a social platform. Granted Google bought those platforms. Even still, they have improved YouTube and I don't see anyone else really competing with Google in the video social media space. So their new platform integrated with their successful video social beginnings at YouTube does make this a good run.
And it's a run not a sprint. The AOL chat room and MySpace didn't make it big overnight. They also didn't die overnight. In fact, I am pretty sure you can still hang out in AOL chats. Hit me up if you want to start a chat room...