Remember when you were in college and there was that one hot guy (or girl) that you really liked, but he always liked other girls and even though you weren’t sure what kind of person he was because you didn’t know him that well, you knew if you only could get to know him/her, you’d totally hit it off?
Or how kids are like, “I WANT THAT TOY RIGHT NOW I WILL DIE IF YOU DON’T GIVE IT TO ME!!!!!!111″ although they were never interested in that toy before they saw someone else playing with it, so you’re all, “where did that toy infatuation come from?”
Well those examples are me and Google+. Oh man, did I want an invite and IN THE WORST WAY. I coveted a Google+ invite.
And then I was faced with the first question everyone has when they set up their Google+ profile: What now?
After several days messing around on this new social media project (and yes, Google emphasizes it is a project because it spans all Google services, creating an environment more akin to how we share in real life), I am still not exactly sure what to do, but so far Mama Likey.
AT first, it feels like Facebook. There are posts. You share things. You add people. They add you. Then you hang out there a little more and it feels more like Twitter because you don’t have to add the people who add you, you can put them into categories (called circles) that feel like Twitter lists. But then you can share information with just certain circles, so that’s like a Facebook list.
Then you get tired and feel like quitting social media all together.
I stuck it out this weekend and found out a few things; specifically more about circles, the Droid app, instant uploads and just generally how I personally might use Google+.
First is the circles, the crux of what makes this project what it is. When you add a person, it gives you the option to put this person in a circle. There are existing circles when you sign up — Friends, Family, Acquaintances. I added one for Bloggers because the majority of people I know actively using Google+ right now are bloggers. You can add as many circles as you want. Circles can overlap. People don’t know what circles you have them in, but they are alerted when you add them to a circle of any type.
This is meant to mimic how you communicate in share in real life. If there was a blogger who was also an IRL friend, I might add them to both circles. I might add my coworkers to one circle and my boss to a second and all these people to a third circle for ALL coworkers, reflecting how there is some information I’d share with my work friends, some with my boss, and some with the whole department.
Now on to the Google+ lingo. If you enjoy a comment, article or post, you +1 it. You’ve probably seen this on Google search results pages (as well as blogs) for a few weeks. The +1 feature is akin to “liking” on Facebook. Although right now, I personally am not sure how that’s going to pan out (telling someone you plussed them sounds really off-putting, doesn’t it?), all you need to know is that this functions just like the “like” button on Facebook.
Another cool feature is Sparks. You add things you’re interested in reading and it pulls articles with those keywords from Google searches, allowing you to share with your circle. I personally do something similar to this with a Twitter list for celebrity gossip, but it’s the same idea — an RSS feed-lite.
I downloaded the App for my Droid and things started to make more sense to me. The App allows you to add people to circles, view your notifications, check out your stream, add posts and do pretty much everything you can do on the web version. It also lets you check-in (like FourSquare and Facebook places) and Huddle — or send a quick message to an entire circle at once. Another thing I like about the App is the screen that allows you to see updates from others near your location (which is a cool way to find out what’s happening locally and connect with local users.)
Instant Upload is a service I just discovered last night. Any picture I take on my phone is sent to a private Picasa album. At any time, I can choose to share this with my circles, save it or delete it. If you’re planning to upload a picture anyway, this is awesome. If you’re planning on sending that nudie pic to your significant other, it’s not, so make sure you’re going to turn it off if you’re of the erotic photography persuasion.
So why would you use this when you’re already on Twitter and Facebook? First, you’re already using Google products. I have a Picasa album, Feedburner feed, Gmail, G-chat, Google Analytics, Google reader and so on. Now when I go to Google, I look at the top and see my picture and a little red box that tells me I have new notifications.
(Welcome to Unproductive City USA, population, a million Google+ googlers.)
I’m sharing things I find on Google, so I might as well share them using Google+. It’s easily integrated into your Internet Stuff on the World Wide Web.
Second, I have a lot of personal information on Facebook. I share lots of pictures of my son, stuff about work, family information and the like that I wouldn’t share on a more public venue like Twitter or even on my blog. I feel confident enough about my privacy settings to share more freely. I know a lot of you guys who read my blog, but not all. I have different levels of comfort with different people, so I see Google+ as a way to share in similar ways to Facebook (i.e. longer messages than on Twitter, shorter and more personal and instantaenous, unlike a blog), but without completely opening up.
Third, I think there is a lot of potential in business, especially teleconferencing and collaboration. Suppose you had a group of bloggers you’re working with on a new meme. You could email, G-chat, start a Facebook Group — or, if you all had Google+, you could each create one circle with just those bloggers. Plus, there’s the Hangout feature, a video chat for up to 10 people that could be a wonderful tool for teleconferencing and a great alternative to Meet Me or GoTo Meeting.
Maybe I’m naive about all this, but it’s how Google+ makes sense in my head.
There are a few people who I’ve heard say hate Google+, but many of those same people haven’t posted anything or added many others to their circles. Like anything new, you have to use it to get use out of it — someone has to start posting, sharing and engaging so others find it useful. It may feel like you’re talking to nobody, but you’re actually performing a really important service to the community at large.
If it doesn’t work and isn’t going to work, it’s the early adopters who will determine that. This is the truly amazing thing about social media — WE make it what it is, not the other way around.
Pretty powerful, huh?
Are you using Google+? What do you like about it? Dislike? If you want to connect, add me (I’m crap at finding people).