Google+: Game Changer?
When I heard Google+ was coming out with a social network to rival Facebook, I pretty much brushed if off as yet another attempt unlikely to dethrone the King and Master of Social Networking. After all, I reasoned, unless Facebook really screwed up – resulting in a mass exodus – or went under, why would people leave for yet another social network? Especially those with a large base of important connections?
I have to say, however, after trying it out for a few days, I am impressed. And eating my words. It’s easy to learn and use.The ability to categorize people into groups, (“Circles”) and share selectively so easily has great appeal. The site’s appearance is very clean, as there are no ads (yet) and no notices in the sidebars. Perhaps best of all: NO GAMES! So far, people are talking mostly about – you guessed it – Google+. Right now it’s like the place where all the “cool” kids hang out since you have to be invited, with everyone learning about it from each other. Among it’s other cool features:
Photo Editing: You can edit your pictures, changing hues, cropping, and even adding some cool effects and making color pictures black and white. Uploading is easy with a drag and drop function, and the photo quality looks better than Facebook’s. It’s easy to navigate and fun to use.
Hangouts: Video conferencing has never been easier. Install the required plug-in and you’re all set. When people in one of your circles uses it, it appears in your stream that they are in a hangout, and shows who has joined them. It will be great for socializing and work collaboration. One thing occurs to me: Will it be considered rude if someone invites you to hang out, and you decline? Hmmm. New features like this means new rules of etiquette will evolve. I sure hope people don’t get, well, a little too “casual” with this particular feature!
Sparks enables you to search topics of interest on the web. You can create lists whose content is updated with the most recent info and is accessible. It’s like having Google Alerts right there in Google+. Wow.
Integration: This is the lynchpin to Google+’s long term success. I’ve heard reports of difficulties with some Google Apps emails, so there are still some issues to work out. I’ve experienced seamless navigation between my Gmail, GoogleDocs, Calendar, Pictures, and Google+ presence; I do just about everything I need to do online from there. That is huge.
For these reasons, I think Google+ offers great promise. They’ve improved upon many of Facebook’s good features, and added some that Facebook lacks. Not surprisingly, there’s a mobile version for the Droid. Of course, that has Iphone/iPad users salivating for theirs. Google will likely avoid at least some of Facebook’s noted missteps with privacy and making so many random changes with little or no notice. And surely, an API release can’t be too far away, which opens up numerous possibilities. For me, the ability to manage it from Hootsuite can’t come fast enough!
So what do you think? Have you tried Google+? If not, I highly recommend it. Leave your email below and I’ll send you an invite. What would it take for you to use it more than, or in place of, Facebook? For now, Google+ is at least part shiny new toy. It is one whose novelty will wear off? Or is it a true game changer that seriously threatens Facebook’s dominance?