You may laugh, and admit it: you laughed, but this has been a pretty common feeling about Google +, Google’s latest attempt at social networking. When it was new and exclusive (invitation only), many were anxious to check out what the fuss was about. The early adopters were tech-minded folk who got giddy over such things and my stream was filled with links to articles on how to understand and operate Google+ and cute Photoshopped images depicting the Google+ icon owning Facebook’s and Twitter’s icons.
It was the new toy on the market and most people who’d yet to figure out how to keep their online professional and social lives separate on Facebook were happy to have a fresh, quieter place to interact. But your biggest draw can’t be, “We’re not Facebook.” That’s not to say there weren’t some key differences and improvements. Google + hangouts (instant video chat) is a lot of fun and the Sparks feature allows you to list keywords of your interests and then aggregates a daily dose of articles around those keywords. And let’s not forget the Circles. Adding people to specific circles and then choosing which circle of friends’ posts showed up in your stream was huge. Not that Facebook didn’t allow you to view/share information by specific lists, but there was something so very satisfying in dropping your friends’ faces into those little bubbles. Hey, sometimes it’s the small stuff.
Lately, though, Google+ has become something of a ghost town. I share (+1) posts that I find interesting when the option is available, and I advertise my own blogs, articles, announcements there when I remember. Your content is no good if you’re not willing to share it wherever people are listening/reading. But it wasn’t my first vehicle of choice to either share or receive information.
Last week, businesses that use Google Apps (office suites that include Gmail, Google Calendar and Documents) were finally able to link them with their Google + profiles. Suddenly, the above Google+ features seem a lot more useful. For instance:
Circles – Users can develop circles based around members of the same team on a project, management, clients, etc.
Hangouts – Meetings can be held without anyone leaving their office and they can incorporate telecommuters with ease.
Maybe Google+ isn’t meant to be the next Facebook. Maybe it should, and can, be more.
How do you use Google+? What changes would you like to see, if any? Have you linked your Google+ and Google Apps?