Leave it to Google to take on yet another social media venture, challenging the likes of Yammer and Salesforce Chatter. The company has recently announced Google+ will soon offer businesses corporate control features for free for a limited time. Through these new features, you will be able to restrict users’ interactions with Google+ if you own a Google Apps domain.
This is similar to Yammer, which was recently acquired by Microsoft to the tune of $1.2 billion, and Salesforce Chatter. These sites offer a way for employees to collaborate rather than the usual social media uses like Facebook, where anyone, anywhere can share. This would be like Facebook exclusively for your workplace. Users mark their posts as “restricted” which allows only those within their organization the ability to see it in their feed, as well as restricting them from sharing it outside of the company.
A Little Bit of Yammer, A Little Bit of Facebook
With all of the directions Google has headed in terms of branching out in the tech world (Google+, Schemer, Blogger, gmail, Chrome, and loads more), it isn’t a total shock they are preparing to challenge Microsoft and Salesforce. The real puzzle here is why they aren’t choosing to separate the private and public sides of Google+. It appears to be a challenge to Facebook, offering something the social media giant does not.
Google Apps users given access to the company-restricted posts will view them right next to the posts from their public circles in Google+. This strategy appears to be a way to get people using Google+: employers make it mandatory for them to use Google+ to collaborate with other departments or even another location in the world, thereby making users more familiar and comfortable with Google+, at which point they will begin to use it in their personal lives as well. This is exactly how Microsoft became the giant it is today, and it makes sense. With all of the time spent at the office behind a computer, it makes sense this operating system becomes a preference when purchasing a home computer. It is something you are more comfortable with using.
A Price to Pay (Eventually)
The difference between Google’s new corporate social media offerings and the others available, such as Facebook: it won’t always be free. These corporate control features will be free until 2013 for Google Apps domain administrators, at which point there will be some sort of fee involved.
There may be another price to pay, although not literally. With more people collaborating and using Google Docs who might not be familiar with the service, it could add up to unintentional data loss for the company. It was discovered in a Backupify study that although Google has not lost a byte of data stored in Google Docs, 63% of data loss problems are caused by user error, such as accidental deletion, a user not fully understanding how Google Docs works, or even mislabeling the data, essentially making it impossible to find. Teaching employees how to use these unfamiliar features becomes a priority to guarantee document safety.