I know what you are thinking – yet another social media site that I need to get a handle on. Well, transitioning to or supplementing your current social media strategy with Google+ may not be as painful as the annual polar bear ritual plunge into icy waters. After all, Google is quickly replacing (or same may say have already replaced) Microsoft as the most ubiquitous tech organization, with octopus like tentacles. Instead of the “It’s a Bill Gates world”, Google has achieved a fete never contemplated by Microsoft – they are a noun (as in ”Google it”) in the New Webster’s Dictionary.
Google+, positioned as “real-life sharing, rethought for the web”, claims to offer a new approach to sharing. By using segmentation, called ‘Circles’, Google+ recognizes that we share different things with different people. You can then be more discrete and discriminating with what you share and with whom. You can be more casual with your BFFs while coincidentally being more formal with your work crowd. Unless the circles intersect, your lives can remain in separate spheres.
Another new construct that Google+ offers is ‘Hangouts’. The feature Hangouts mimics the spontaneity of bumping into friends live and in person. You can simultaneously share a YouTube video with 9 of your friends, for example, and chat about it.
For the gameophiles among us, Google+ offers a game room, where you can brag about your high score, but only to those contacts interested in that. This could be relevant when you don’t want to annoy your boss with your Bejeweled score. The Search feature helps you to find information quickly on topics that are relevant to you.
PC World’s Jared Newman compared Google+ against Facebook and made the following observations:
The look and feel of Google+ is remarkably similar to Facebook, so that all important ramp up of adopting a new outlet should be eased. The biggest differentiator between the two is Circles; while Facebook has private and public groups, it is more an optional feature and is not used for segmentation of interaction in the same way as Circles.
Photos: Google+ allows a staggered view of photos vs. the album view of Facebook.
Mobile Apps: Facebook’s mobile app is far more feature rich and is available on more platforms. Google+ is only available on the Android and is still somewhat limited.
Bonus Features: Hangouts has a lot of potential for you to get dragged into a time sink. Sparks can help serve up topical information based on interests.
Facebook wins out on the richer portfolio of games, although Newman characterizes them as “heaps of time sucking diversions, such as FarmVille”. For now, Facebook dominates in this area and it remains the reason people spend so much time on the site.
So check out Google+ to see how you may want to augment your social media plan with this new tool.