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Can Google Plus Keep Up the Initial Excitement?

Google Plus fever has struck. As part of the big intro to the Internet giant’s new social networking site earlier this week, invites went out to selected techies. Now, there are so many people who would like to get a coveted invite that they’re turning up on eBay.

With its tagline, “Real-life sharing, 
rethought for the web,” Google Plus is taking aim at Facebook by driving home the message that you shouldn’t share everything with everyone.

Google Plus’ “circles” promises to be an easier version of Facebook’s Groups function, so that users can create selected audiences like “family,” “work friends,” and “people I met at ComicCon 2010.”

It is garnering some positive reviews, especially as compared to Google’s previous social offerings. Others see it as too early to tell.

As Scientific American points out, other social networks have been popular, then fizzled. Case in point, MySpace, which got back in the news this week because it sold so low (News Corp. purchase price, $580 million; sale price $35 million) and because Justin Timberlake is part of the group buying the site. But temporary Timberlake buzz and initial invite excitement do not a successful social media site make.

“I haven’t even tried to look at Google Plus,” said Tim Stuart, a friend and an IT pro who received an invitation. “I don’t think a social network can be a valuable resource until it reaches a critical mass in regards to the number of users I would be interested in interacting with.”

For PR pros, the ability to reach a massive audience will, indeed, be a test of whether it will match or overtake Facebook.

The New York Times asks if Google Plus will become a refuge for those of us so sick of Facebook that we are ready to light ourselves on fire.

I’m going out on a limb here, but why suggest that people exasperated with Facebook switch to ANOTHER social networking site? Why not just unplug their computers, for God’s sake?

(Full disclosure: I, myself, just experienced 10 gloriously uninterrupted days off Facebook, during which I got my work done absent worrying about what other people should fix for dinner, who was checking in at various heavy metal clubs, pictures of said metalheads drinking, and the health of my cousin’s Labradoodle).

Separate but related, tech reporters have found that Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, has already joined Google Plus, ostensibly for research purposes.

Whoa. Take a look at that pouty mug. Maybe he is worried that Google’s got something big this time. But he’s not going down without a fight. During a visit to Facebook’s Seattle offices this week, Zuckerberg teased that there would be a big reveal next week.

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