If you’ve been conscious anytime within the last couple of weeks, chances are you’re sick of hearing about Google+ and that’s too bad because we’re talking about it too. But don’t go away, dear readers. We made this blog just for you!
A lot of the reviews we’ve read just gush about how wonderful and amazing Google+ is and how it will solve all of our social networking problems and probably maybe even bring about world peace. To this we say…really? How could anything ever be that amazing?
If you’re anything like us, when you heard about it, you probably wondered if the world needs Google+. It’s already very hard to keep track of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts. Add to that responding to emails and Instant Messages and your head feels like it’s going to explode! Why do we need yet another social network to tend to?
But Google+ will not be ignored. Judging by its insane popularity right now, it’s very hard to imagine that it’ll go away anytime soon. As it picks up momentum, lots more people you know are going to jump on the bandwagon, dragging you with them. At this point we’re up to ten million users… in two weeks. So, listen up cuz here’s the skinny on it so far!
What’s kinda strange is that even though everyone else is calling it a “social network,” Google doesn’t. They refer to it as “sharing” and that’s a more accurate description of it if you ask us. It’s more like a comprehensive online communications tool. It has an email service, blogging platform, micro-blogging site, news feed, video conferencing system, chat service, location-based social network and a whole bunch of other stuff too.
What’s making people go all nutsy for it is that it’s sort of like rolling Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and all the other sites you may be using right now into one. You only need to go to one site. You have one login and one feed so you’re not hopping all over the Internet to get your social networking needs met.
But does it suck?
Our feelings about it are kind of neutral at this point. There’s some great stuff about it and some kinda lame stuff, but it’s new so we’ll give it a chance. Google has links to report issues or suggestions peppered all over the place, and, judging by the buzz on various forums around the web, people are definitely clicking on them.
What we love most about it is the circles that help you keep business contacts and personal contacts separate. You can create groups of people—your circles—to help you organize folks and control who sees what. For example, let’s say Kristen puts Adam in her Friends circle. Kristen will see all of Adam’s “public” posts in her stream. If Kristen chooses to publish to her Friends circle, Adam will see her public posts. If Adam isn’t following Kristen back because he hasn’t put her in any of his circles, he won’t see her posts unless he clicks on his “incoming” stream. The circles thing is a little bit complicated, but those are the basics. It’s far easier to maintain your circles on Google+ than it is on facebook, which uses “friends lists” that are much more cumbersome to administer.
The Video Conferencing is all kinds of cool and we can see it having great potential for use in business. It’s called “Hangouts” and you can view videos in a group with up to ten users at the same time. You can invite specific people to a video chat session or you can open it up to larger groups and talk to everybody. Let’s say you’re involved in a particularly intense chat session with someone and you get sick of typing like the wind. You can immediately launch a video conversation--BAM! Hope you don’t have miracle whip on your cheek ‘cuz you’re on camera, buddy!
If you’ve ever been frustrated by spam filters catching your email newsletters and preventing your audience from seeing them, Google+’s “Social Circle” might be the solution to your problem. It makes it easy to share content to other members of Google+
And on the less than awesome side, if Google+ is going to be adopted by businesses, it needs to have a Google Apps integration. Google+ made a recent announcement asking businesses and brands not to create a profile just yet. They’re apparently working on something very, very special for us! We’ll see…
We’re also not thrilled with the lack of search functionality. Seriously, this is GOOGLE for heaven’s sake. Let’s get to some searching! And what about the noisy full stream? There’s no way to collapse a long comment string, so posts pop up to the top every time somebody shares a new comment. Ugh! It’s annoying! Hopefully it’s one of the things on the “tweak” list for Google.
We do have more thoughts to share with you, but we’ve already stretched the Internet attention span past its limits, so we will leave you with this thought:
We are reserving judgment on Google+ until we see more, but we would like to hear your thoughts, if any.