Will Google+ take the social media crown?
It's been a month now since I first heard about Google's new attempt at making a social network, Google+.� When invites were being sent out, I did work feverously to get one, but now two weeks into my experience on Google+, I have to more say that it's going to take time for me to be convinced that Google+ will overtake Facebook, but I like what I see so far.
I WILL NOT sit here and pass judgment, and I think it's crazy how many are already saying it'll wipe Facebook out or it'll fail, when the site and system are not even out of Beta yet.� Everyone is so desperate to be the one to say "I said so" that we're seeing way more articles and editorials than needed.� All I'm handing you here are my thoughts and what I think of Google+ thus far.
What separates Google+ from Facebook
At first look, you'll think Google+ looks like a carbon copy of Facebook.� Even I made that assessment when I saw the layout the first time.� Everything is in the same place, only less banners and callouts of people you might want to connect with.
Connection and organizing those connections are probably what separates Google+ from Facebook.� In Google+ you don't just go around doing "friend requests".� You simply add people to your circles.� Circles are basically a means you can organize connections any way you like.� You're generally given one for family, one for friends, and one for acquaintances, but you can go further and rename, delete, or add more circles to your heart's content.
So why have circles?� Most of the reason is that it gives you more ease on how you share content.� When you post a status, link, video, etc, you are pushed to designate who you want seeing this content.� So when you're posting that drunken photo of you with a few strippers, you can only allow one circle to see that, but yet the cool link to a review of a new tablet you can post publicly and show everyone.� The idea is you don't have to have multiple accounts to be able to post what you feel.� Currently we're seeing the rather tech-savvy folk use them well, but who knows how long until we hear of someone losing their job because they didn't watch what they posted.
Other than Circles, the other nicely-named functions on Google+ also make this network stand out from the rest.� Hangout is basically a video chat room that can handle up to ten people.� You simply start one up, post it or invite people in, and go from there.� Apparently whoever talks into their mic will be the one that shows up on the big screen.� I'm not sure what happens if two people talk at the same time.
Sparks is pretty much a content aggregator based on interest.� You pick a random subject like "soccer" or "recipes" or "fashion" and you'll see that term end up on your left-side column.� When clicking on one of those terms, you'll be shown an ever-changing offering of links to articles and sites, seemingly powered by Google.� It does better meld the ideas of content aggregator and social network.� With Facebook you have to follow specific people and end up with everything on your wall, in Google+ you can have some separation.
Where Google+ is lacking
I've only been on the site for two weeks, and I keep hearing about the vast amount of people who have joined, but yet while I did move all of my known contacts into circles, my general Stream is quite inactive.� Part of the issue is that Google+ doesn't constantly refresh the stream the way Facebook refreshes the wall.� The bigger problem though is there might be loads of people on Google+, but not a lot of people in my own social circles.
Now one could say I should expand this, but I don't agree.� I (like many people) like to keep their social network private and even "cliquey" if you want to use that ugly term.� I'm not just going to add random strangers to my circles unless I have a reason.� Plus the factor that there isn't a business end of Google+ doesn't fare well on following brands and such.� Google is working on a business setup for Google+, but it won't be ready for some time, and even now they're barring businesses and brands from starting up Google+ accounts.� I can't blame them since I would rather not have any social network turn into a spam-a-thon.� Still, I'll say right now businesses should be looking at Google+, but cooling their jets on trying to advertise on it.
Hangout isn't meaningful to me, since I'm not really a webcammer.� I could see this blow up with youth culture, but for the millions who use social media at work (generally when it's not allowed), webcam chatrooms aren't very practical.� Maybe down the road we might see some office meetings end up in Hangout, or even long-distance brainstorming, but outside of entertainment purposes, I don't see much benefit to Hangout...especially if it suffers through the problems Chatroulette does (male genital shots).
Sparks I think is a good idea, but if it's powered by Google, then it's as limiting as an RSS feed.� One thing I like about content aggregation on networks like Twitter is that I get a great mix of content from various sources.� The content I saw come in on Sparks was a bit disappointing.� Still, things might improve as this site evolves.
So I carry on...
Unlike my first experience with Twitter, I won't make the mistake of signing off and moving on.� I'll continue on Google+ and see where things evolve, especially if the "beta" title gets lifted and we see open registration across the board.� For now I'd advise anyone interested and especially businesses to just look around.� See the how and what, and formulate how you could possibly benefit from Google+, especially when they open the business end of it down the road.
Are you on Google+?� What do you think of it so far?� Would you give up Facebook for it?