Google+ and the Search for Granular Sharing

Google has made at least three acquisitions to boost Google+: automated sharing concern Katango, social analytics provider SocialGrapple and social sharing specialist Fridge.

It's well known that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has tacked on more than 100 feature changes and additions to its Google+ social network since launching it June 28.

But the company is also buying small companies to round out its burgeoning social network.

Google's acquisition of Katango Nov. 10 is the third purchase by the company this year to augment Google+, the company's swiftly evolving social network.

The search engine provider, which is aiming for the hearts of Facebook's massive user base of 800 million people worldwide, also acquired SocialGrapple and Fridge to fortify the fledgling network. Google+ likely has more than 50 millon users at this point. As the network gets more crowded and active, it behooves the company to enable users to manage their connections with greater efficiency.

Google+ Circles enable users to follow any users they find on the network, from individuals to newly-available Google+ brand Pages. However, this ability to pick and choose who to follow and place people and brands in specific buckets can be cumbersome. Google acquired Katango ostensibly to automate some of this friend-following work.

Katango makes social software algorithms that detect connections between users. For example, Katango will detect who is a family member, who attended the same high school or who lives in the same city, and place them in the relevant group.

Without explaining exactly how it will use Katango's assets and talent, Google has said only that it was impressed with Katango's ability to make social connections smarter. It's almost certain that Katango will help Google+ automatically classify users, alleviating some of the social Circle fatigue users feel.

Acquired in October, SocialGrapple's analytics software detects changes in a user's social graph and sends users interactive charts and email reports reflecting the data.

Specifically, SocialGrapple tracks every unique user who mentions a keyword and provides reports and dashboard views of unique mentioners to alert a brand owner when someone learns about their brand for the first time.

Such software would be ideally suited to Google's new Google+ Pages for brands, which launched Nov. 7 to let celebrities, businesses and organizations such as Pepsi, Toyota, Macy's and The Muppets tout their wares on the social network.

Then there is Fridge, which Google picked up in July, less than a month after Google+ launched. Fridge fuels the construction of private groups within social networks, as well as photo sharing and event planning.

Fridge co-founder Austin Chang is reportedly building shared Circles for Google+, adding yet another measure of granularity to the Circles construct.

So it's readily apparent that Google is not onlt building but buying its way to more nuanced sharing for its social network, which is essentially the brand the company is angling to evolve toward.

Google wants to be known not just as a search provider, but a purveyor of social connections and information sharing -- like Facebook but with Googley flavor.