How Google+ Can Beat Twitter

Google+ has a unique opportunity to take control of real-time social, and unless Twitter gets their act together, it could change how we communicate and dominate the market.

Twitter and Google+, at this point in time, both share the same problem: noise. The more people you follow, the harder it is for you to notice them as individuals; their importance and influence in your feed tends to move towards the frequency rather than the quality of their posts. For important posts Twitter has trends and retweets, Google+ has the rather inferior "sharing" mechanic, which duplicates the post rather than pushing the original to the top (rather like the user-made twitter retweet), but there's a better way.

Google have almost nailed this. They're so close with circles it's tantalising -- true filtration on a basis of importance and your own interests is inching closer, and it's a shame that it didn't launch with this integration of feeds as standard. For those of you not already experiencing the new network, its primary feature, "circles," allows you to nest your contacts into different groups with Google suggesting "friends," "family," "acquaintances" and a twitter-style "following." Contacts can be in as many or as few groups as you wish and with each update you send, you can choose which groups it sends to, allowing you to fine tune your privacy. Contact groupings are not adjusted from the circles page, as with Facebook, but are instead on the page of every user.

A lot of technology pundits have applauded this feature, as it makes Facebook's advanced and highly intricate privacy controls much simpler in Google+, and much more social. You can click on each circle in your sidebar to see only updates from that circle, but at the moment you cannot group circles together and see more than one: it's all of them, or one of them. Circles are also private, and there is no way to make them public, as a Twitter list could be, and Google+ has no way of tagging posts for categorisation as hashtags are used on Twitter. And it's these features that need to change in order for Google to take the crown.

Consider the following scenario: Google allow HBO to create a public, taggable circle for A Game of Thrones on Google+. People can add content to the circle simply by sharing it as they would normally. You can follow the circle by clicking it in your sidebar, as you can already, and you can mark it as less-important, keeping your other circles pinned for longer periods of time. You instantly have the whole social experience of the show, and at the same time, those that follow you and do not follow the TV show, do not have to see your posts in their feed. You can do this with everything you watch, you can create and curate public circles for live, spontaneous events. Suddenly Twitter is showing its age very quickly.

If Google is smart, it won't be refreshing their real-time search contract with Twitter, because soon it will own that stream, and with the extra metadata and reputation indicators Google can glean from its own system, rather than relying on another, it will likely be much more powerful.