Google's social media launch falters

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Google logoSearch giant Google put its toe back into the social media market yesterday with a more convincing offering than before - then got off to an iffy start by having invitation-only membership but then having to put a notice up about its servers being over capacity. So even if you're lucky enough to have an invite, you might not get in.

This will have caused frustration but any backlash will be as nothing compared to the reaction in February 2010 when the company compulsorily joined everyone to its Google Buzz service and flouted all manner of privacy guidelines as a result.

The company's other attempt at a collaborative environment, Google Wave, hit the rocks last year. The stammering start isn't a good beginning but there's a lot to be said for the ideas behind this new network.

Google+

The new name is Google+ and this time it looks as though the company has managed to find something new and useful - itself a tricky proposition in a crowded social media market.

The simple proposition is that instead of announcing everything to all of your followers/friends/whichever image your network of choice uses, you divide them into circles. So if readers wanted to be part of my "reader circle" here then I could announce when I'd put a new entry up; I can have another circle for friends and another for family, and I can of course overlap them.

It's a sort of protected sharing - not that I've got much to hide but if my wife is following me on a social network she might be less interested in whether I've just blogged on a Google network than someone who's following me for professional reasons.

The applications and refinements are many and it's one of those things which with hindsight makes you say "of course..!" - which is always my idea of a good innovation.

There are other refinements like group texting, photo sharing and group Instant Messages - but my bet is that the idea of being able to choose the people with whom you share a given update could become the single biggest change in the way we use social networks of the decade so far.

Blogger Guy Clapperton is the author of "This Is Social Media"

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