Google has arrived a little late to the social network party.

Google has just unveiled Google+ (If you’d like some first impressions, check out PC World’s thoughts), their much anticipated answer to Facebook.  Fashionably late but realistic, Google  has no desire to derail Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Google+ simply aims to be a useful and productive ‘project’ that will be a positive tool in the social media realm. Most publications and websites, like The New York Times, covering the story want to know if this unveiling means there is a new contender for king of social media.

But the real question is whether Google+ will be as useful for businesses as Facebook.  Google+ will have multiple features that are similar to Facebook but different enough that businesses might shy away from use.  The main tools we should consider are Google Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, Instant Upload, and Huddle.

Google+ Circles is essentially the same as a Facebook Friend List. The huge problem with the feature is that upon building the circles with their descriptive titles, you cannot put one person in two different circles. The limitation will ultimately end up in the frustration of users who have categorized their friends and families as more than just one role. In general, people label the individuals in their lives with a primary role. But more times than none, a person has attached multiple roles to an individual and therefore the Circles concept might cause more headaches than Google was intending.

The Google+ Sparks feature could be very helpful for a business. This feature allows the user to add interests to the Sparks list and keep a running collective of videos, photos, and articles they are interested in.  The content a user adds to Sparks can then be shared with other users.  This is essentially a recommendation feature.  Unless companies can get a hold of those lists, I don’t see how this will be useful.

Google+ Hangouts allows users to group video chat. This feature could be used for conference calls or tutorials on a product demonstration. Businesses will need to be on the ball though, when in Hangouts the loudest person will obtain the largest screen. There might be some logistical issues with this feature but overall I could see it as a very fun and useful tool.  (still confused?   This will help explain).

Google+ will be available after Google is satisfied with their typical invite only trial run. It will be interesting to see the longevity and usefulness of this ‘project’ when it becomes available to the public.

How do you think businesses and the general public will respond to Google+?   Do you think businesses/consumers are looking for an alternative?    Will Google+ be a catalyst for Facebook’s decline?   What will social media life be like after Twitter and Facebook?