If you haven’t heard about Google+, the obvious question would be where have you been? Not just aimed at anyone who has a Google profile or even owns an Android product, Google+ was the second social network effort launched by the search engine company. If you remember Buzz, then you’ll remember the unfortunate ‘buzz’ that the start up network got with the whole ‘Google using your information for evil’ controversy.
However, with the introduction of G+ in the middle of 2011, Google seemed to understand and learn from their mistakes and from their competitors. One of the first things the social network did to separate it from the pack was two-fold – it created Circles, allowing users to group friends, family, and followers by their own naming conventions and eliminated a text limit.
Those two things alone managed to stick it to both Facebook – who would end up creating groups to compete with Circles – and Twitter – who ironically ended up shortening their normal 140 character limit. The word at the time was that G+ was going to kill Facebook; high praise, but even with well over 500 million users and growing, the network still needs time to beat the big book of faces.
So you’ve heard about the network, but why should you bother?
Cleaner Interface: After their recent I/O conference, Google made some significant interface changes for all of their products, including G+. Looking a bit like Pinterest, the site now matches with the changes done to Google Play, Music, and Gmail. The mobile version, which already experienced the card like design, makes it much easier to scroll through your feed.
All Together Now: If you’re already a Google user, you already have a G+ account that you just need to complete. Recent changes have now tied your Google accounts together; you get notifications and make posts through any Google entity (like Gmail) and when you +1 something publicly, it’ll have your name attached.
It’s Not Facebook: The 1 billion users on Facebook aren’t going to jump ship, but several articles have noted that there aren’t 1 billion current or active users on the site. G+, while taking some aspects of Facebook, isn’t as iffy as the network giant. Pro gamers, for instance, will never be harassed by friends or family on G+ about joining them in a game; you can opt out of ever seeing games. And of course, the ability to put your boss and co-workers into a circle where they will never see embarrassing vacation pictures is always a bonus.
Conversation: Many users on G+ have likened the site to a block party of sorts; where on FB, you have to know the people you’re talking to, G+ allows everyone to discuss any topic without needing to know or even follow them. Like Twitter, you don’t need to follow back people who have added you to circles, nor do they have to add you. And there have been some great conversation involving people you may not know.
Should you take the plunge and use Google+ over Facebook? The big argument for some is that no one on their Facebook list is on G+, but that doesn’t matter. Did you know anyone your first day of school? Did you know anyone when you got your first job? Likely, the answer is no. New things are nice to try and when you can get the benefit of keeping it all together, why would you not?