For whatever reason, I’ve been coming across discussions about Google + in various venues. The opinions seem pretty much split, with some calling it a failure; while others think it is uber awesome. I think that both opinions are valid; but what I think is even more amazing is the fact that the usefulness and relevance of Google + is even being debated at all.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve been using Google + for about 6 months and while I’m not blown away by it, it has definitely grown on me. And in my arsenal of social media tools, it has a distinct spot now. Let me explain why. I use the “Big 3″ of social media services daily…which is LinkedIN, Facebook and Twitter. They all have overlaps, but in general LinkedIN is for professional connections, the vast majority of whom I know personally. I also utilize LinkedIN for professional and career development (through their ‘Groups’ feature). Facebook is more personal and casual; although I’ve been growing more and more uncomfortable with Facebook’s goal to get you to put your entire life, so to speak, on their network. And finally Twitter is to keep me in the loop. Yes I tweet, but more so I utilized my Twitter feed to keep up on many different things at once.
So where does Google + fit into this? Well here are the 3 major reasons why I use Google +:
1. It’s more focused. I like apps and widgets, but sometimes I get thrown through a loop when I login to some of these sites. On top of that, information seems to be stuffed into every nook and cranny of my computer screen (especially with the new Facebook timeline feature…whoa!). I think this works if you are looking to consume information and content. But if you have a purpose; and which to have more control over your social networking feed, then Google+ allows this. Google + is your desk…as opposed to a kiosk at the shopping mall.
2.The ‘+1′ feature. It’s funny, because for years, I’ve been on StumbleUpon. Yet it hasn’t really grown on me like +1 has. Maybe because it’s a standalone site with little else to draw you in? Or maybe because 2/3 of the time I “stumbled” a link, I wasn’t signed in, so it didn’t register to my profile anyway. On the other hand, I almost always have a window with Gmail open in it. So when I’m reading things online, and +1 them, right to my Google + profile they go! Now I have a resourceful list of links; many of which I’ll revisit or reuse in my blogging or in my studies.
3. It’s not so popular. Ok, why on earth is this a good thing? Well, it stems back to control and focus. The active users of Google + are people who understand social media and technology; people who take initiative to forge new ground. This article gives more detail into why this is a very good thing. I will go on to say that the items I share on Google + are things that I wouldn’t want to share on Facebook or LinkedIN, and things that my friends/connections wouldn’t want to see. Additionally, I don’t have to worry about exes, bosses, or other random people commenting on the photos that I choose to share between myself and other select people.
Outside of this, there are other benefits, such as SEO advantages and as an easy way to foster relationships and connect with others. While I’m not so focused on these benefits, it just goes to show you that Google + should not be written off. It is showing itself to be a very useful social media tool; among those of us who use it that is.