Just weeks ago, Google launched its response to social media giant Facebook, and speculation has already soared. Some have predicted that the Google Plus Project could be a “Facebook killer,” while others say it’ll fail like the search giant’s past social flops, Buzz and Wave. It’s most likely that Google+ will fall somewhere between those two fates, but what’s certain is that lawyers who have embraced other social media platforms are sure to join. To help out with the move to Google+ some of the best legal blogs out there have offered best practices advice. Take a look, and let me know what you’ve noticed in the comments section.
Lawyerist: Google Plus Offers Better Sharing
For Lawyerist.com, legal marketing consultant Karin Conroy writes that Google+ should benefit from a strong connection to accounts users already have with Google owned products like YouTube, Gmail, and Picassa, creating endless sharing possibilities. In addition to making sharing easier, Google has figured out how to enable users to limit what information they want to share with specific groups of friends, with the “Circles” function. “Whereas with Facebook and Twitter all connections and content are equal, here your content will be targeted and then filtered to the appropriate audience,” writes Conroy. “That way you can post about your Saturday night activities without your boss seeing all the details.”
After discussing the benefits of Google Plus for professionals, Conroy tackles the two major obstacles the social media newcomer will have to address in order to succeed: being “different enough” from Facebook, and being the anti-Wave, Google’s past failed social experiment. Despite a profile page that “bears a striking resemblance to Facebook,” Conroy writes that Google+ has developed a full interface that passes the originality test. As for Wave, which “none of us could ever wrap our heads around how to make it work, Google+ has clear benefits and obvious functionality,” writes Conroy.
Adrian Lurssen: Professional+?
JD Supra co-founder Adrian Lurssen asks whether Google+ is an appropriate professional setting for lawyers, separating the litmus test into three standards: connections, communication, and reputation. Lurssen notes that there’s no doubt that Google+ will be teeming with connections once the word gets out, and points to an early study suggesting that it may be the fastest growing online platform ever, with 20 million users expected by the end of the week. Lurssen gives Google+ an anemic 7 of 10 rating for connections, likely because there just aren’t too many lawyers on there yet.
Lurssen is much more optimistic about Google+’s communication potential, which he rates 11 out of 10. “The stream of updates is so spectacularly real-time that in the early days I equated it to freebasing lab-grade cocaine,” he writes. “Might feel amazing at the time, but you aren’t sure your body is going to survive.” Lurssen adds that in the midst of commenting on updates, he’s been bumped by a deluge of activity, knocking him off the stream. So in this sense, the communication success of Google+ could end up as a negative.
Lurssen concludes that when it comes to professional development, LinkedIn will likely remain the community standard. But Google+ is clearly a player, and the outreach potential alone is sure to attract lawyers as the word continues to spread.
Kevin O’Keefe: Be Patient
In his blog post for Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Kevin O’Keefe writes that Google+ is clearly here to stay, but that “Facebook is unlikely to go the way of MySpace.” O’Keefe notes that over time, social media platforms have a way of evolving and becoming something unique for specific groups of people. So the Google+ benefits O’Keefe mentions, like its incredibly intuitive usability, will help the social media newcomer remain popular and attract new users until the main utility of Google+ becomes more clear in the coming months and years.
O’Keefe also notes that lawyers may be reluctant to dive in to Google+ as opposed to Twitter and Facebook because their base of potential clients has not yet immigrated. But he adds that “incluencers and amplifiers,” a group that “may be more important than networking with clients/prospective clients/referral sources” are already on Google+, and there’s a clear benefit to building your profile and making connections early. “Though there is a heavy population of Tech/Media/Mar-com people now on Google Plus,” he writes, “you can expect early adopters in every vertical and profession on Google Plus very soon, if they are not already.”
FutureLawyer: Mind the Googleverse
Over at FutureLawyer, “Future Technology for the Lawyer of Today,” the choice boils down to applications, and the blog states that Google+ simply does more than Facebook. “Those of us who live in the Googleverse have used Facebook like a separate part of our computing lives, a diversion from our Google computing,” Future Lawyer writes. “Now, we can integrate that social and professional contact experience and conversation into the Googleverse.”
For the reasons described above (and more), FutureLawyer says opening a Google+ account is smart for lawyers, once they can get an invite. But there’s no question that Facebook, with 750 million users, continues to dominate the social media universe. So even if you’re going to open a Google+ account, writes FutureLawyer, keep your Facebook identity active… at least for now.
Legal Practice Pro: Network Effect
Over at Legal Practice Pro, Jay Fleischman has collected a set of resources explaining the many functions of Google+. As for his own take, Fleishman notes that whether Google+ is truly a “Facebook Killer,” or whether it flops, “it is likely to have an impact on the future of how we interact on the web.” That said, Fleischman isolates a key obstacle for Google+, which he calls the Network Effect. “If enough people join Plus and start using it then it could be fantastic, what with the ability to silo your contact groups and direct conversations to the right people.” This is a great point and gets to the heart of why I think Wave failed so spectacularly. A party is only as fun as the people who show up, and since no one could figure Wave out, no one showed up to the party. For this reason, Google may benefit from lifting its invitation-only status in order to get more people on Google+ and making connections.
Don’t Worry, No Hurry
Many individual lawyers are already hopping on Google+ as an alternative to Facebook. It’s important to note that Google has said that while Plus is developing a platform for businesses, the current product is designed for individuals only. “How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands,” said Google+ Product Manager Christian Oestlien. “The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses.”