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Can Google Plus bridge the great social gap?

After much hype Google Plus is finally open for businesses. Cue a scramble for brands to understand this new environment, get set up with a basic profile and start exploring.

But apart from what this new channel can do for brands right now, what’s really interesting are the wider implications for B2B marketing, for social media and the delineation of work and leisure time. Predictably, Google Plus’ launch innovation, allowing users to filter their connections by relationship type (thereby enabling business-only connections), has already been copied by Facebook, removing it as a differentiator.

But the extent to which people will bother retrospectively reviewing all their Facebook contacts is doubtful: by contrast Google Plus accounts are still new, behaviour or usage patterns not entrenched. The potential exists for Google Plus to steal a march on Facebook by fully integrating both work and leisure interests and connections, allowing users to quickly and easily manage both via one platform.

This could prove to be a profound shift: until now business people were forced to be very strict on how they used social platforms, with lack of flexibility of technology enforcing a rigid delineation between activities. By contrast, Google Plus inherently accepts the fact that such boundaries are (at best) difficult to draw, and allows people more flexibility about what they share with whom. It builds on Rick Segal of Gyro’s notion of the ‘@work’ state of mind, which suggests boundaries between work and home are melting away, as we increasingly switch mind-sets regardless of physical location. 

But perhaps the key question for me is: realistically, how many social platforms can we be members of? Is there really room for four business social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus) and if not, which is least likely to survive? There’s only one thing we can be certain of: far from calming down with maturity, some of the most exciting times for social media lie ahead, as both technology and preferences continue to evolve. Watch this space.