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Thoughts on Google+ by the world’s social media gurus

Google+ is still new to the field, but it’s already shaping up to be Google’s most successful social media effort to date. While some have relegated Google+ to suffer the same fate as the company’s other recent failed social media efforts Buzz and Wave, the consensus among the tech industry’s top pundits, critics and journalists has been positive.

We thought it would be interesting to take it a step further and see what the founders of some of the world’s top Social Media sites are saying about Google+.

Mark Zuckerberg – CEO and founder Facebook

Referring to Hangouts, the Google+ video conferencing feature, Zuckerberg dismissed the feature’s exclusivity as a big threat to Facebook and says that Google+’s biggest challenge is in building up its user base. People will need to invest time in recreating their social graphs on another social network.

Tom Anderson – ex-President and co-founder MySpace

Anderson gave his thoughts on Circles, the heart of Google+. Comparing it to Facebook Groups, he said that the key to unlocking the winning model lies in thinking about what each model does best. He suggested that Facebook’s model is more like Yahoo Groups with forum capability, while Google+ Circles are more like email distribution lists meets Twitter with better commenting. In the end he said, it’s about which model users will prefer.

Kevin Rose – Ex-CEO and co-founder Digg

Rose highlights several Google+ features that has him coming back and thinks Google+ is a great first effort.

Echoing the growing consensus, he likens Google+ to Twitter. Akin to Facebook’s “Like” button, he praises the “+1” feature in Google+, which allows one to acknowledge others for their contributions. Twitter’s method of giving kudos is more involved and requires a re-tweet or reply to a post.

Rose hat-tips the Google+ Incoming feature which allows you to see posts from people that you aren’t following back. He thinks that it’s a great way for brands and celebrities to interact with their fan base without having to follow people they don’t know.

He toys with the idea of Google+ serving as a possible blog replacement with an inherently wider reach, with an added benefit of built in social sharing and compliments the real time, lightweight UI and performance of the platform in general.

Rose ends by saying that he believes that Sparks (feeds that aggregates news from around the web based on your topics of interest) could be a killer feature, but needs a lot of work.

Adam D’Angelo – CEO and co-founder Quora

Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, D’Angelo sees recreating the social graph as a positive thing, saying it’s “fun to play in a new space without being burdened by all my old stuff.”

D’Angelo agrees with Kevin Rose that seeing real time updates from people in Circles is fun, but wonders if it might become overwhelming as more and more people are added to them. He also thinks managing Circles is too much work, suggesting that there should be a base relationship, which allows you to friend someone, without having to decide which Circle to put them in.

He goes on to say that there is a delay between new users joining and them showing up in search and it should be real-time.

While Rose praised Sparks, D’Angelo says the feature is out of place and should be killed, and criticises the push to use Picasa, saying that Google should start from scratch with a new service, and centralise it more inside Google+.

Finally, he criticises the method that Google+ uses to suggest friends saying that it derives and imports contacts from too many sources, which leads to duplicates. He also says the system fails to clearly explain who is already on Google+ and who is not, which leads to spamming people who might not want to or can’t join the service just yet.

Pete Cashmore – CEO and founder Mashable

Cashmore thinks it’s the right time for Google to be launching a Facebook competitor, but says the biggest challenge for Google+ is managing expectations. He says the question isn’t about whether or not Google+ will beat Facebook — which incidentally, he doesn’t think it will — instead, he says the question is about how Google+’s social signals will improve Google’s existing services.

He sees Google+ as a great start, saying that Google will find their way, but doesn’t see it subverting the entire social media scene right away. He adds that services like Twitter and Facebook might not feel immediately threatened, and that it provides the social media consumer with a welcome additional choice.

Pavel Durov – CEO and founder Vkontakte

Durov believes that if Facebook was created today, it would look like Google+. As suggested by Kevin Rose, Durov agrees that Google’s concept of community is better geared towards marketing and goes on to say that the one-to-one communication leaves something to be desired.

Ryan Block – Co-founder gdgt

Block commended the way in which Google implemented the browser plug-in required for Hangouts, which does not require a browser restart in Chrome. He also pointed out the Google Buzz DNA apparent in Google+ with regard to the “following” mechanisms. His wishlist includes the ability to add pictures to comments.

Alexis Ohanian – Co-founder Reddit

Ohanian is simply… impressed.

Author | Martin Carstens

Martin Carstens
Obsessed with technology and the future, I write words for machines and people. Born in South Africa, now living in the United States. More
  • Anonymous

    Great article Martin – thanks!

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  • “People will need to invest time in recreating their social graphs on another social network” … 

    Hmmm, didn’t stop myspace users moving to Facebook. Also, Google+ will no doubt attract less users than Facebook, but I suspect the value/demographic of those users will be a lot higher.

  • Cheers, Cat!

  • Hi Ian, those are good points. I’m personally deeply in like with G+. I’m experiencing the same situation as when I first left MySpace. I’m having to temporarily maintain two social networks, but as my friends are porting, there’s less need for me to check Facebook and Twitter. I believe G+ will be successful, and it doesn’t taste like Buzz or Wave to me, both of which didn’t immediately enchant me as G+ does. It’s still an early product, and I look forward to to its growth.

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  • I do not expect them to agree that Google+ is a threat to them.

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