In a word: Engagement
More specifically, I’m finding that Google+ seems to have an uncanny ability to encourage user interaction via comment threads. For example, a single post I created yesterday (that was short but definitely had more than Twitter’s 140 character allotment) generated 11 follow-up comments in less than 24 hours. That level interaction from varied sources is fairly rare on Twitter due to un-threaded nature of retweets.
It’s worth noting that Facebook has a similar comment threading functionality, which Google+ isn’t really improving upon in a significant way. It’s also worth noting that a possible reason for the high level of comment threading that me and my colleagues are experiencing has to do with our general psychological make up as opposed to any inherent functionality withing Google+ (e.g. we’re just a bunch of techies that are prone to commenting a lot).
However, there is one other subtle differentiator that could possibly explain why Google+ could be true engagement juggernaut in the weeks, months, and years to come. When it comes to brand interaction, Facebook (and Twitter to a lesser extent) have forced brands to limit the frequency of updates in an effort to not over-saturate and turn off followers. They’ve also forced brands to focus on what essentially amounts to a fairly generic, one-size-fits all content strategy that aims to appeal to the broadest base possible. This is due to the fact that both of these existing channels make it very difficult to segment followers, and therefore, segment messaging content and frequency.
Google+ doesn’t have that problem. Their Circles functionality will allow brands to segment their followers, which in turn, will allow brands to create segments for users that are interested in specific types of information, offers, etc. as well as create “super user” buckets for users that are known to interact with brand content at a high rate or with a high level of engagement potentially opening the door for a content stream with a higher rate of updates that aren’t shown to the mainstream follower stream.
The only way to do this effectively on Facebook and Twitter is two create separate pages or handles, which is not nearly as efficient as what Google+ could offer.
And the applications for this type of segmentation are infinite. Brands can easily break out circles for folks that are known to be high-maintenance (e.g. lots of customer service inquiries) or for folks that are prone to sharing content with their networks or for folks that are known to be in the consideration phase, etc. and so forth. It’s almost as if Google decided to combine the traditional internet forum with traditional email marketing segmentation to create brand engagement juggernaut.
But only time will tell if this is truly the case.