After several brands ignored the Internet giant's request not to create a Plus page, a potentially frustrated Google took its new social network on a bee-line toward the Enterprise. Meanwhile, the war with Facebook is getting even hotter.
Though Google had initially planned to test business partners on Google+ sometime in the next “few months,” the Internet giant has decided to speed things up to next week. Could Plus be the social business network we've all been waiting for?
Wrote Christian Oestlien, a Google group product manager, in a blog post:
If you have not already, please be sure to submit your business for our test phase. We will be closing this form on Friday (July 15th) at 6pm PST. To the thousands upon thousands of businesses that applied to be a part: THANK YOU! We won't be able to accommodate everyone, but your interest has got us very focused on accelerating our development plans.
This deadline follows up Oestlien's request that brands not create Google+ profiles. Naturally more than a handful went ahead and did it anyway, including Ford, Breaking News and Mashable. As a result, Oestlien and his team will be selecting a set of business partners for the test period next week, and will soon after announce their choices publicly.
As we noted last week, the use case for Google+ in enterprise land has a lot of potential. Circles allows you to post updates and share information with specified groups only, Hangouts approaches multi-user video chat with lots of room for spontaneous collaboration, and Sparks digs through the Web for articles related to a defined interest, making it easy for users to find relevant content.
However, it's important to note a couple of rough spots: Google+ is still in beta and needs a lot of users to make a significant impact. Secondly, though it will obviously connect at some point, Plus isn’t yet hooked up with one of Google's largest pool of Enterprise users— Apps accounts holders.
Meanwhile, Google+ has generated more headlines than it has social activity since its launch. Earlier this week we saw news suggesting that the new social networking service has boosted Google's value by US$ 20 billion-- a sign that investors think the company is onto a winner. With an estimated two million users already, things do seem to be going well.
Much of the more user-focused posts so far have been about how Google+ will allow users to reboot their stuffed Facebook friend's list, re-categorize their social lives and invest their time in re-energizing friendships with people they value but may have dropped under the radar.
It isn't hard to imagine that those first friends will be either a user's closest or more tech-savvy ones, so will boost the quality and quantity of conversations, encouraging the stickiness that any service requires to thrive.
Will you dump the whole Facebook system for a new, smaller, untried service? It's unlikely, but over time users could see their social networks coexist before moving firmly into one camp or the other.
In an attempt to drag more users towards Google News, readers can now earn badges for the stories they view. While it's hardly a radical leap in the direction of gamification, the move does give a decent idea of what media and companies can do to reward users just for visiting.
The video below shows what's on offer and also mentions that you can keep them private, although that's hardly the point of gameplay, is it? The feature is only on the U.S. version for now, but could expand worldwide with the addition of soccer balls, cultural symbols and so on.
Fighting for Display Dominance
On the ad display front, it's a different story. Last spring, IDC analyst Karsten Weide found that Google’s net U.S. display ad revenue share grew to 14.7 percent in Q1 from 13.3 percent in Q4. In comparison, Yahoo’s declined from 13.6 percent to 12.3 percent.
Now, eMarketer is predicting that Google’s display ad revenues will top US$ 1 billion for the first time in 2011. At the same time, eMarketer predicts Facebook’s share of U.S. online display ad revenues will rise to 17.7 percent in 2011, up from a 12.2 percent share last year. (Yahoo’s U.S. display market is expected to decline to 13.1 percent, down from 14.4 percent in 2010.)
Just one look at those numbers and it's clear that Google and Facebook will be going head to head for display space. Google+ has surpassed 10 million members in two weeks since its soft beta launch, but Facebook recently cleared 750 million-- despite signs of slowing down. Further, many suspect Google+ will find its home in an elite tech pool. What do you think?