Why Google+ Piques Our Interest: Top Ten
‘Why do I need Google+ when I already have enough social networks to manage?’ writes one confounded blogger. You may sympathize with this sentiment and even feel like a G+ reject, unable to snag an invite to the latest social network. Google+ is currently the platform of choice for the early-adopter types- digerati groups of geeks, bloggers and Silicon Valley’s finest- a far cry from Facebook’s near ubiquitous use with Mom and your seventh grade P.E. teacher.
But with each passing day, the temporary reality carefully crafted by Google to respond to issues and ascertain ‘expert’ feedback evolves into an ever-expanding network that’s worthy of everyone’s attention. Here are 10 of my favorite G+ features that may give you pause to consider tracking down an invite and checking it out.
1). One-way following- Taking a page from Twitter’s playbook, Google+ allows users to follow others without the compulsory reciprocation that is required of ‘friending’ on Facebook. The advantage? It’s not necessary to declare mutual friendship to simply see what another user is discussing (at least publicly).
2). Circles- Google+’s 1-way following gets amped up with its integration of ‘Circles’ so that you can follow and be followed by someone without divulging your entire life to them. G+ allows users to control who sees what by categorizing and appropriately broadcasting posts to the desired group(s). Mimicking real-world relationships, users create their own circles which serve as silos for particular discussions and content.
3). Splintered identities- Most people choose to slightly vary their identity across different social networks. Some like LinkedIn are reserved for professional updates and connections, whereas others like Facebook often connects a broad base of friends, family and like-minded individuals. Google+ bridges these wide rifts in the social graph by allowing users to group their own networks across a single platform… essentially being in two, four or ten places at once. So feel free to discuss political theory with Uncle Tom without broadcasting your sentiments to your weekend softball team or a potential employer.
4). Personal privacy- Users control exactly who sees what content from an intuitive base of sharing permissions. No more navigating chaotic blueprints of privacy settings- on G+, privacy settings are quick to find and edit. What’s more, Circles distribute the right information to the right audience. Need to inquire about a prospective employer without your current co-workers and boss finding out? Here’s your chance. Showing off your latest tattoo without including Grandma in the mix? Go for it. These are your circles.
5). Integration into the Google suite- G+ is a proprietary platform of Google but it’s a far cry from the walled gardens we’re used to. Google’s fingers reach out across all corners of the web, making G+ accessible across Google’s enviably large suite of products. +1 (Google’s counter to Facebook’s ‘Like’) is integrated with search results and ad’s, and not surprisingly it also finds a home on G+. Long term? Google+ could potentially serve as the foundation for a “social backbone” that’s been long awaited. For now, delight in quickly sharing content with your circles right from your iGoogle homepage or GMail.
6). Egalitarianism- Everyone matters on G+… in theory. You don’t have to be the squeaky wheel to get attention. Nor do you have to specialize yourself into a niche category (think Twitter) in order to share insight and discuss what matters to you. On G+, you are you- with all your interests tagging along for the ride. You can hone in on as many as you like knowing that you won’t bother others thanks to ‘Circles’.
7). Hangout- G+’s take on video chat rev’s up the usual by allowing conferences of up to 10 people in a single session. As this feature evolves, I suspect we’ll see brand and celebrity chat sessions in addition to the ability to add more people into the convo. Until then, this is a fun tool to explore and a superb way for teams to share their latest lightbulb moment or impromptu meeting.
8). Thoughtful UI- While most social networks seem muddied with their own look and brand, G+ is remarkably clean and crisp. Easy on the eyes and highly intuitive, the interface should segue nicely when brands come into the picture and allow for more customizable uniformity (think brand pages, social shopping and more).
9). No floodgates- Unlike its previous entries into the sharing space (Buzz), Google took its sweet time developing and iterating G+ before rolling it out. In fact, they are still up to their elbows in dev grease, asking first users for feedback and quickly assessing which features need tweaking and which are missing. This ability to develop and pivot under user satisfaction will be critical to G+’s long term success and is already winning it the affections of many users. While this means a slower roll-out then simply opening the floodgates, it also means a carefully iterated product that is likely to suffer from fewer setbacks as it progresses. If you haven’t yet snagged an invite, you soon will.
10). The right blend- Whether or not Google+ ushers in a new dawn to the peril of other networks is yet to be seen (and quite unlikely anytime soon). But what G+ clearly has going for it is the potential to be a real game changer in the space, pushing other networks to work that much harder on their own iterations. Thanks to a highly visible network of early adopters, G+ contains a plethora of really interesting content and feedback that is tough to find elsewhere. Its blend of broadcasting and blogging allows users to share short or lengthy ideas and solicits interesting feedback (at least in these early days).
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