Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 21, 2011
Google+ is all the rage these days as the next big thing in social media. In their own way, they’ve tried to say they’re not a social networking site, but that’s like saying vanilla pudding isn’t pudding (okay, I might say that from time to time since I only like chocolate).
First let’s talk about what Google+ is, because so many people have different opinions. In a way it reminds me of Facebook when I first signed on. It’s fairly clean and crisp, probably too much for me. Most people who are there now either got there via an invite or have some kind of Google account other than just Gmail. Someone tried to send me an invite when I kind of didn’t care and then she told me about it, so all I did was pull up the link to the site, which is http://plus.google.com and it let me create an account.
When you get there, you’ll find that some people have probably already added you in some fashion to what are called “circles”. There are some default circles already such as Friends, Family and Acquaintances, and you’re allowed to create other circles. The purpose is to be able to categorize people so that you can then determine who you want to follow or contact specifically if you’re not in the mood to follow everyone. You can put people in more than one circle if you want to, something I might have to think about doing.
It also handles people you don’t know differently than Facebook. You can hide or block those people, or you can create a circle to put those people in if you so choose. I created a circle I call “Unsure Folks” until I can figure out if I know them or not. I’ve yet to determine if you can de-list those folks later on if you decide you don’t want them around, but I have learned that you can remove someone from any circle by dragging their image out of the circle and popping them into the netherworld.
Actually, saying that makes little sense until you’re actually on the site, but you can either drag people’s images to a circle and drag them back or you can hover over people’s images and this menu comes up giving you the option of putting them into a particular circle. By the way, people never know what circle you’ve put them in or whether you’ve put them in a circle to begin with.
Okay, enough of that; you can learn more from many other areas, including the little video I’ve put at the bottom. Even in the video, the guy begins by calling it “Facebook killer”. Let’s explore this and other things I’ve been hearing.
There are a lot of folks touting this thing as the social network that’s going to kill Facebook, Twitter, and possibly LinkedIn, since MySpace is pretty much dead. I’m not sure I agree, and I wish I could see what everyone else is seeing.
For instance, I still prefer Twitter because it’s so “instant”; Google+ isn’t quite there yet.
I’m not going to say I prefer Facebook but it’s a totally different animal. There are some groups on Facebook that have great interaction but many are fairly dead. People are saying group conversations on Google+ are much better but I think it depends on the group. For instance, there’s a group of Syracuse University folks who think this is the cat’s meow (I wonder where that phrase came from) but then they’re all talking amongst themselves and they already know each other so that works just fine.
For someone like me, though, well, I don’t already have a group of people that I automatically talk to. Right now the majority of people I’m connected to are you good folks that I blog with, but almost none of us have ever talked with each other directly, either on the phone or through video. This means we really don’t overly know each other personally. I’ve had a conversation or two here and there with some of you on Google+, but nothing like hundreds of ideas going on at the same time.
Also, the site has something it calls Sparks, and I thought it might be like the Facebook groups where, if you say you happen to like something, it pops you into a group with like minded people. Instead, if you put in a topic it pulls up news stories or blog links and such, pretty much like Google would do; there’s no discussion going on about it, so what’s the point? I can just go to Google News instead.
Finally I keep hearing about the business part of it and how it can improve business relations. I’m missing that as well. On LinkedIn you can find people based on what it is they do. You can’t do that on Google+; you have to know people’s names, or someone else who might be connected to them. There’s this feature called Hangout which is their version of a chat room, and after downloading a small bit of software you can talk either through video, audio, or a combination. You can only have 10 people in a room right now. I like how smoothly it all runs; I don’t like that you can’t invite individuals. To get around that you’d have to create a new circle and add certain people to it, and then delete the circle later on once you’re done with it. However, it’s hard to complain all that much about another free service.
Will this be the death of Facebook? I don’t see it, but one never knows about people. There are no games and no groups, and I think a lot of people like those things. Will it be the death of Twitter? I don’t think so once again because I think Twitter’s value is its speed of conveying information to a ton of people all at once; it’s not going to work the same way on Google+. Will it be the death of LinkedIn? Once again I don’t see it, since LinkedIn’s value is in connecting with only business people and allowing you to search for people who are in your industry or that you might be able to do business with; Google+ offers Google search and that’s it; I don’t feel that’ll get it done.
And that’s what I have to say right now. Of course as people leap to Google at break-neck speeds right now we all might find that people are looking for something a little different than what we have now. If it allowed more of a pick and choose I might like it better than I do now. It’s early yet; let’s see what it looks like six months from now.