Let me preface this by letting you in on a secret. I love Google. Their products have practically single handedly driven my business the past couple years. Gmail, Docs, Calendar, YouTube, Maps …I could go on, but all have been influential. As a matter of fact, I taught myself how to build websites by using Google’s search engine and watching YouTube videos, and the only reason I don’t have an Android phone is because, well, if you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have an iPhone.
So, here’s a quick rundown of what Google+ actually is, along with some awesome features—as well as some drawbacks. Keep in mind this is a less than 1 month old social service that has grown to over 10 million users by invite only. To put that in perspective, it’s the fastest growing social network ever. You’re probably familiar with Foursquare, a location based service which has been around a couple years. They reached 10 million users the same week Google+ did.
With Google+, it’s super easy to manage and adjust your privacy. You decide what information is visible and who is available to see it. Create circles to categorize people on the web that only you can see. For example, I’ve got a circle called “Local Celebs.” However, other than me telling you, you’ll never know it exists or who’s in it!
With the use of circles, you can decide who receives what messages easily and conveniently on every post.
On the settings page, there’s an option that allows users to download all of their data into zip files. This includes photos, profile data and stream (Google+ version of the wall) data—as well as your circles and contacts data.
Again, with circles, you can dictate who posts in your stream.
Within your dashboard you can have constant search options open for your favorite topics, which you can then share amongst your network. For example, one of my topics is the Detroit Tigers, so anytime anyone publishes an article about the Tigers, it gets fed right into my dashboard.
“Hangouts” is pretty much group video chats on steroids and is a fun and visually appealing way to interact with different circles or people in your network. It’s ideal for event planning, business meetings or (in my case) to show off the new baby to the whole family without leaving the couch.
One of the great things about Google+ is its overall design, which can be summed up as simple and clean without being boring. From the color scheme to the layout, the entire design is well thought out and works.
The ability to add filters, much like PicPlz, Instagram or Hipstamatic. The viewer is also pretty cool in itself. It’s much easier to view and do with photos than on other social networking sites.
Similar to the “like” button on Facebook, use the +1 button on different posts, comments and anything searched on Google (which are all stored in your profile). This is a great way to drop in and see what people are actually interested in—not just what they say in their bio.
Try and remember as of July 13, Google+ is still an invite only service. It is still in its infancy. Remember way back when, when Facebook was only for college kids? A lot has changed since then, so whatever downfalls may be present in the now, they will likely change in the almost immediate future.
Remember this service that was going to compete with Twitter a while back? I don’t really either, nor do I understand its relevance. I linked my Twitter account to it the day I signed up and don’t think I’ve ever been back, so I’m not sure why it’s on the profile.
The comments are fine and all. However, when someone comments on a post within your stream, it automatically pushes it to the top. This means you may not always see the most recent posts and there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust it.
Currently you can share just about anything on Google+, but you can only share it within Google+. There’s no option to share on Twitter, Facebook or any other service just yet.
Check the user agreement on this, but it’s fairly clear and direct what they plan to do with your photos and who owns them once you’ve uploaded them. So, if you’re a professional photographer, I’d suggest refraining from posting anything you plan on some day selling.
Almost everywhere people are comparing Google+ to Facebook and Twitter. The “experts” say Facebook should be afraid of Google+ because it’s going to take all of the Facebook users (same with Twitter). I tend to doubt the validity of these claims. After all, if Facebook finally has a legitimate competitor, its service will only get better. Think about it—there’s a reason that McDonald’s is often across the street from Burger King. Competition makes businesses better, and I see this happening on the social space and I’m really excited about it.
Unfortunately, the services that will probably be affected the most are the little guys. (I say little as a loose term comparing them to 750 million Facebook users.) Services, especially mobile ones, like Path, Mobli, Banjo, GroupMe and Beluga will probably all get bought out (which may have been the purpose of their creation in the first place) or fold. I’m interested in seeing Google+’s impact on niche communities like LinkedIn and Instagram—although it may only be a matter of time (and the amount of millions) before they’re both bought by the giants.
Sign up, give Google+ a try and see how cool and convenient it is to have a service that incorporates everything social and personal in one space. And, when you do, circle me and say hello: www.gplus.to/timboslice