As a social media enthusiast, we are practically sure that you’ve also followed with excitement Google’s latest attempt to invade social networking market, after two resounding fails with Google Wave and Google Buzz.
Having Google has as a client is a privilege in many ways, especially when they are kind enough to send us invitations to try the service before a broader opening. Therefore, we had the luck to be one of the first ones able trying, adding, updating, posting, sharing, watching, circling, commenting, youtube-ing, +1-ing…etc
I must say that among our very heterogeneous group of testers (boys, girls, geeks, non-geeks, social media people, and traditional media/PRpr people), reactions have been extremely positive. People loved the easy and fresh user interface, which is clear enough to instantaneously understand how things work, without having to check any manuals or How-to’s.
The “Hangout” (video conference) system really is a killer app (imagine a conference with 10 people or more directly into in your browser), the “Circle” system (where you can separate your contact into different groups such as “Family”, “Friend”, “Ogilvy”, “Web”…etc) is also well done since it allows the users to easily and clearly set privacy rules about the content they are sharing.
But one thing that has aroused my interest is that the overall user experience looked like particularly familiar, because I use Google+ the same way I use Sina Weibo! The timeline, the way we post and share links, pictures and video (they are directly implemented into the post) can be very similar to the popular China- based service. Some contacts on Twitter told me that most of mainland Chinese users of Google+ have had made the same remarks.
Of course we aren’t saying here that Google Plus (which proposes much more than a simple timeline) has copied some of Sina Weibo’s features, but I can’t help to but notice some uncanny similarities. It would be the first time that a popular western internet company is inspired by innovations from a Chinese one.
For those of view you who are not familiar with Sina Weibo, it’s one of the most popular microblogging platforms in Mainland China (also used by Taiwanese celebrities) and is often called “The Twitter of China”, with the difference distinction of being technically innovative. There is, for example, no need to use a third party clients to access Weibo, since the web interface is good enough. Indeed, Sina is one of the few internet companies in China to mainly focus on the technical/usability part before thinking about monetization.
It’s of course very difficult to say how successful the service will be (after all, to be “Social”, a network must be used by a critical mass) but at least they are starting without technical problems and usability flows that characterized its two predecessors.