When it comes to social networking sites, Facebook clearly has the advantage over any other, with the site averaging over a billion active users on a monthly basis. Google’s social networking site, Google Plus, on the other hand, seems to be virtually empty. Although Google is the preferred search engine and Gmail seems to be the most popular email to use, Google Plus has never really seemed to pick up. However, what many people do not know is that Google Plus is imperative to the company’s future, and that it is using Google Plus to its advantage.
The social networking site would at first glance, seem to be useless, with virtually no users as compared to Facebook, but what people do not realize is that the site is mostly benefiting the company itself, not its social networkers. When it comes to Google Plus, the company is using it to its advantage by using all its services being linked up for the benefit of the company. When a person signs up for a Google Plus account, all that they access on the search engine, including YouTube, maps, news, and Gmail, is seen by Google. This is true even if a user never once visits the social networking site again.
According to The New York Times, Google says that the site has 540 million users that are active within the social networking site, but only a little over half of those users actually visit it. However, signing up for Google Plus is now important because Google is requiring the use of a Google Plus account in order for users to be able to access certain services. For example, commenting on YouTube can now only be done with use of a Google Plus account.
Some users (or former users), however, are having concerns about the company forcing people to use the social networking site in conjunction with the search engine and their email accounts, which links the things they search, their friends, their likes and dislikes, and their personal email accounts, so that Google can optimize their target ads. This has raised privacy issues because of the way brand advertisers for Google target ads to users based on people’s personal searches, friends, and also what they like on Google Plus.
Others, however, are fond of the idea of everything being in one place: email, social networking, videos, news, and a search engine. Although the popularity of Google Plus pales in comparison to Facebook at this point, Google is still capable of using Google Plus to its advantage, and according to the company, it helps it create better products. For example, it helps them know, or at least be able to narrow down, if a person’s search for a name, such as “Hillary,” means a famous person or a family member. Plus features such as Google hangouts are also becoming increasingly popular, and Google services seem to be growing in usage, despite a conflict over privacy issues. For what seems at first glance to be a failure of a social networking site, Google is finding a way to utilize Plus to make the company even more powerful.
By Laura Clark