Could Google+ be your one stop shop for Social Media? Personally, I’m thinking the answer is yes, even at this early stage of development. Well, okay, perhaps with the exception of LinkedIn. First, this is truly a beta release and is also being released in viral fashion. Presently, one can only join G+ (shorthand for Google Plus or Google+) by invitation. For awhile, the invitations were shut off due to the flood of people wanting to join. Having said all that, here are some more thoughts on why this might be the next big thing for a useful Social Network site
- Google seems to have learned from Facebook missteps. You have simple, easy to understand control over who sees what. You get honest “warnings” when you change sharing on a post. They allow you to export all your data – it is after all, your data. Use the “data liberation” link to download your data.
- Circles. Thank Googleness for circles. Finally, this asymmetric approach to the site makes me really appreciate the “do no evil” approach. Unlike other sites, you are able to limit who sees your posts if you want to do so. You create circles of people just like you do in your “real life.” There is your circle of friends at work, or those at your place of worship, or your professional SIG, or your neighborhood. You get to choose who goes into what circle and they only know they’ve been added to a circle (not which one or what you call it). You can put a person in more than one circle, and you can post to more than one circle, to individuals or to “public” where all the millions of people on G+ can see what you’ve posted if they want to do so.
Your posts can be short (like a tweet), long like your blog and can contain photo, video or links. I hope that Google continues to improve the “blog” capabilities of G+ and if they do, I may well simply close down my existing blog in favor of having everything in one place.
- Filtering. Circles can be used to filter the stream of posts you see on the home page of your G+ account. So if you’re in a hurry and want to see what your circle called “Colleagues” or “Mates” has to say, you can simply “click on that circle” and that will filter the stream to only posts from folks in that circle.
- Hangouts. This is really cool and I can see myriad uses in business and family life. Simply put, this is a video conferencing application that allows up to ten folks to be “in one hangout.” Several colleagues have already started collaboration hangouts with their co-workers “upstairs,” in the “next building” and “up North.” Amazing. And I can see how we might use this to plan our next vacation plans that require coordination with my sister in TN and my brother in FL. Awesome!
- Sparks. This is very interesting. I use Google Reader to aggregate my blogs and Google News to filter my news. Sparks may be an interesting filter for articles on specific topics that “feed my insatiable curiosity” and “spark ideas” for blogs and other articles I write. I’ll have to work with this some more to see how the algorithm works before I pass on the usefulness for my work. But it sure looks interesting at the moment.
- Photos. I was surprised and pleased when I installed the G+ application on my Droid X. I stopped during a run (yes, I use my Droid as my mp3 player too, and I carry it running for that as well as emergencies) to take a compelling picture and when I went to G+ for other reasons saw a notification that new photos had been uploaded to my “private” folder. I had done nothing except take the picture! From my private folder, I could chose a whole bunch of options including sharing the photo. Such fun! No fuss, no muss, it just works.
- Chat. Nothing much “new” here except the integration of chat with the hangout. It makes things easy for direct messaging even in the hangout.
So what needs to happen? G+ is in beta and still limited. Once it’s established and Google is satisfied that it has “shaken out” they will open it up to the public – speculation is “soon,” whatever that means.
- Establish a culture or etiquette for the G+ world. That will evolve and it looks as though it will be more “serious” than other Social Media
- Make room for businesses to participate in a serious, non-selling fashion.
- Put more “Blog” functionality in the posting capabilities (things like “save as draft,” additional links, photos and “schedule post”, etc.)
All in all, I’m very impressed with this last attempt by Google to get into the fray on Social Media platforms. I find G+ WAY more “sticky” for me than either Facebook or Twitter (which I hardly ever read, I only schedule posts that are helpful to others). And to be fair, I only usually read Facebook and Twitter stuff on HootSuite.
For now, G+ is not going to ease any of my Social Media work. In fact, it will likely cause more work for me since I now want to spend time there! However, as things progress, and if they go the way I believe they will, I will likely drop Twitter and Facebook for business, pare Facebook down to only family and a few friends and extended family.
I’ve read on several posts that “pundits” are claiming that businesses can safely ignore Google + for a year or so. I do not agree. As soon as businesses are allowed to participate, you had better be paying attention and evaluating what’s going on. Businesses were very late to the Facebook and Twitter game and have been “poorer” for their hesitation and skepticism. Don’t repeat that mistake. Get involved much sooner rather than later.
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UPDATE 10/1/2013: While no one was watching, G+ has become the second largest social media network based on subscribers. It’s now THE place to be! But no, I’m not finding it to be the one stop shop. I am, however, finding I spend much more time there than Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn is the only other contender for time.
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Update 03/28/2015: I still much prefer G+ to other social media. The content and the conversation is much more professional. There are a few trolls but they are easily shut out. And this seems to be an amazing platform for pictures. So I’m still partial to G+. I do think things are slowing down though, when it comes to others. Perhaps there are too many choices out there but my sense of things is that G+ is still a better choice for professionals – second only to LinkedIn.