Google+ may not yet have the audience size of Facebook or Twitter, but today's announcement that the site is partnering with social media news reader Flipboard could certainly help Google+ begin to accelerate its user base.
In a report on BusinessInsider.com today, Bradley Horowitz, a Google+ vice president of product management, unveiled the partnership plans with Flipboard at a technology conference in London. The deal will add users' Google+ news streams to the Flipboard app for iPhones and iPads, joining similar streams of user content from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Instagram. Flipboard allows users to bring together all of these forms of content in one place on their personal devices, making it easy to sort, read and review.
"Google is opening up its Google+ API to give Flipboard users access to photos, videos, updates and more from the social network, all within the Flipboard app," according to the report. That will allow users to access Google+ posts without having to go view them on the site itself using a browser.
No target date was announced for the new feature to take effect, but it should happen soon, the report said.
The growing popularity and cool factor of Flipboard, though, could be another feature that might help Google+ chip away at the huge disparity in users that the site has compared with Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has some 845 million worldwide users, compared with about 90 million users for Google+, according to an earlier eWEEK report. In comparison, Twitter has about 200 million users.
Yet despite that vast chasm in users today, the Google+ partnership with Flipboard is a good strategic move, said Jon Reed, an independent social media and ERP analyst with JonERP.com.
What Google+ is working to do, Reed said, is to build a critical mass of users that will make the site much more relevant to visitors every day.
"So far, it's just not a daily destination site" for users, he said. In response, Google is working on ways to make it more important to users, including business users, so that they can interact more with Google+.
"What they're trying to do is to embed Google+ into more [popular social networking and social media tools] to give people more ways to stumble into using it," Reed said. "That's where Flipboard comes in."
The Flipboard partnership will help make Google+ content more accessible and therefore more important to users, he said.
"Google is in a great position where they now won't have to hope that you show up some day on Google+ in the first place," Reed said. "They wont need you to show up there because all they have to do is find ways like this to push the information to you that you are seeking. They already did that with Google user profiles, which are used throughout Google. So now they'll continue to add things like Flipboard or anything else down the pike so they can bring it all together."
Google has stumbled with some earlier features, such as originally creating a Google Places feature that then morphed into what's now called Google+ Local, Reed said. That transition confused some users, making them less likely to use the feature and unintentionally diluting that user base. At the same time, though, the new Google+ Local site created a better tool for local business to connect directly with local users.
Now, though, the search giant can continue to merge its varied tools together for users in ways that replicate the Flipboard deal, Reed said. "Thats what I think Google+ is trying to do, to bring it all together so more people see it all. Thats part of their strategy right now."