Recently I was graced with an invite to Google +. I was a little aggravated that it took so long, I remember beta testing gmail a thousand years ago, but I swallowed my pride and set up my profile. At first I had about 10 mutual connections, people I knew and loved but were still heavy Facebook users that couldn’t be bothered with an alternative. It was fairly boring.
When I came across Huff Post’s list of celebrity plussers to add to my “following” circle, my stream instantly increased in activity. I got a bit overzealous +1ing and commenting on my newfound info-wealth. Following this circle-spree I ended up with seemingly endless notifications, so-and-so commented on such-and-such, what’s his name +1’d whose-it’s-whats-is, you +1’d something everyone else +1’d… It didn’t take long before I stopped logging on; I have more one-sided connections than mutual’s and my friends are lost in my main stream. I went back to Facebook.
Yes, Google + is growing faster than any other social network. Yes, Google + is new and crisp and organized. Yes Google + is socializing the search process. But who is using Google +? Right now, this is a place where Seth Godin has more followers than Lady Gaga. How can you keep Google + interesting and relevant in a place where early adopters are primarily social media gurus, industry experts and cewebrities?
I needed to stop using Google + like a Facebook account. It might take some getting used to, but utilizing the circle feature and consciously changing up the stream helps me stay connected to real-life connections on the same platform that I set up news feeds (sparks) so I can search for content to share within the site. In fact, once I got used to it, it really made connecting with the right people easier…or it might have, if I had more real-life contacts there. I did make courageous attempts at converting my friends, who either ignored my pleas or posted comments (to Facebook) such as “Why bother?” or “I am [on Google +] but I don’t actually know what its purpose is.” In Google +’s defense, there are some cool features, and some people are using them in really cool ways. The hangouts function is being utilized by singer/songwriter Daria Musk as a free concert venue…pretty smart stuff.
To be fair, you can make groups, lists and change privacy per-post in Facebook, but it seems like an easier task to add your connections to the right circle from the get-go. I mean, who wants to cruise through a list of 100 to 600 people and sort through them? (BTW, Facebook currently reports the average user as having 130 friends.)
As for accessibility, I still have a note on my Google + homepage telling me that I’m a part of a field test, but I have 150 invites and can share them with fellow gmail users. It is uncertain when Google will allow non-gmailers to join, but if you’re still itching to try it you can sign up for a free gmail account anytime.
No one can deny that Google + is a valiant effort, but is Google grabbing a swim suit and towel while we’re snuggling down with Zuckerberg for a long winter? No one can say for sure yet, but I’m keeping my eye on this platform and I think you should too. And hey, while you’re there… http://goplus.us/SamBee.
If you’re looking for more detailed information regarding Google + and it’s features, you can find it in Mashable’s Google + Guide. If you’re looking to add more people to your circles, try out this super-cool list.