A Short Guide to Getting Acquainted with Google+
Published: 04 Aug 2011 By Susan Black
Will the product live up to the hype?
Over the last few years it seems we’ve been inundated by social networking websites. From MySpace back in in the dark ages of 2004, to Facebook and Twitter today (with a few less successful ones in between), there’s always a new way for us to connect with our friends and family. And with so many different options, you’d probably think it crazy for any company to try to launch a network in direct competition with heavyweights like Facebook – but Google is not just any company.
In just 13 years, Google has become the single most popular website in the world, even coming top in a recent poll asking ‘what is at the centre of the internet?’
So whilst all the other search engines (Yahoo, Lycos, and so on) were taking it easy on their oh-so comfortable Catnapper sofas, Google was carving out a niche for itself, leaving its competitors trailing behind. And now, in 2011, Google is taking its first steps into the world of social networking with its fledgling service, Google+.
So why should you care about Google+?
Unlike every other social network start-up, Google has a serious amount of backup to justify its entry to the market. Not only is it the most visited website in the world, it also has millions of users who already have accounts. That means that most people are essentially already signed up to Google+. They simply need to login in to their Google account, visit the Google+ site, et voila! But Google’s muscle isn’t enough to make a success of the project, G+ needs to offer functionality that other networks simply cannot.
And as a starting point, Google have plumped for their unique ‘circles’ concept.
A circle for everybody
Sites like Facebook are limited by their own design. What we mean by this is that when you ‘add’ someone they automatically become your ‘friend’, and can therefore see all of your photos, updates, and everything else. You can of course tweak your privacy settings on a per-friend basis, but that’s a lot of work! Google+ offers an elegant solution to this issue: each time you add someone new, you can choose a ‘circle’ to put them in. So, you could have a circle of close friends, a circle of colleagues, even a circle of acquaintances. In fact, you can create any number of circles with any number of titles. Then, when you post something, you can quickly and easily choose who you want to see it without having to pick out individuals. Simple, right?
Hangouts and Sparks
Just as they’ve done with circles, Google aim to develop other new features that their rivals simply can’t match. Take ‘hangouts’, for example. Rather than having an online/offline chat list (which is still available, of course), you can select certain friends and invite them to a ‘hangout’ room. This is essentially a private chat room where you can share videos, text and more. Add in web cam functionality and you’ll feel like you’re really hanging out with your closest friends. Another unique feature is ‘Sparks’. Much like an RSS feed, you can subscribe to different Sparks (sports, science, films, etc.) and then Google will add relevant, (hopefully) interesting articles to your feed.
So it won’t simply be a list of your friends’ activity anymore, rather your feed becomes a whole new animal – a hub of information that is important and relevant to you.
The Google+ project really aims to refine the social networking experience. Google are well known for releasing products and apps that just work, and G+ is no exception. It remains to be seen whether or not it will revolutionise social networking and make Facebook the new MySpace, but it certainly has a great starting point. So get involved now and you, too, can say “I was there first”.
"Jane Sherwood, marketing coordinator for Only Marketing Jobs, commented: “After reading this article I conducted some research and concluded that Google+ does seem to tick all the right boxes. The ‘circles’ principle is particularly interesting because it promotes relevance within relationships, affording a service which will allow people to use only one site for everything. You’ll have the LinkedIn aspect of your professional life separated from your social networking Facebook part of your life but all under one roof. I agree that this does appear, at least at the moment, to be a fantastic alternative, which when open to the public, will quickly become a favourite of networkers.”
Edited by Simon Lewis | Only Marketing Jobs