First impressions of Google+
I got invited to Google+ last weekend and I've been noodling around with the new social media platform for a few days now. Google+ is still in beta and you have to be invited to use it, but Google confirmed today that 10 million people are already using it. Here's a few early impressions of Google+ so that when your invitation arrives (or when Google opens it up to the masses) you'll be ready.
I'm not gonna lie – Google+ is a lot like Facebook. It has a cleaner, less cluttered design, but it still has a main wall where you post and can see what your followers are posting. There's a place for photos, video and a profile page. Not exactly reinventing the wheel.
The main feed where you read followers' status updates, postings and links is a bit Twitter-ish and the photo albums (which are automatically pulled over from your Picasa album if you use that service or have a Blogger blog) are Tumblr-ish. If you like something a follower posts, hit the +1 button (that's Google's version of "Like"). You can also see your followers' photo albums all in one space. Google is in the process of rebranding Blogger and Picasa and integrating them into the Google+ experience, so I'm interested to see what that will be like since I use Blogger for Modern Confessional. Blogger's dashboard interface has already been Google+ed.
What is different and the big Google+ selling point is how you organize your friends and followers. Google+ calls it Circles. You can have a Circle for your friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. When you post something to your wall, you decide which Circle of followers sees it. That will prevent mom, dad or your boss from seeing things you want to share. Call it targeted sharing, if you will. Facebook is going to have to play catch-up fast, because Circles is very useful. I've set up a Poets & Writers circle so I can target posts related to my work or links I find interesting just to them.
The other feature others are already touting is the Hangout, where you can have a webcam conference with up to 10 people at a time. Sparks is where you create a list of favorite searches on Google. I've already set up Sparks for poetry, fiction, London, Paris, Doctor Who and other interests. Of course there's a mobile app version, too, which is robust for Android smartphones and soon will be for iPhones.
Beyond that, Google+ is still a very Facebook-style experience. I don't see Google+ as a Facebook killer, but there is plenty of Facebook fatigue out there. I know I've been feeling it lately.
Part of the reason I created an author page for myself (www.facebook.com/CollinKelleyWriter) is because I'm now being bombarded daily with friend requests on my personal page from people I don't know. I've got a queue of more than 30 friend requests that I haven't dealt with yet. With more than 2,000 friends on my personal page, I have been subtly encouraging people who have found me because of my poetry and novels to "Like" my author page. I plan to close the Conquering Venus page on Facebook and consolidate my social media presence as I prepare for the publication of Remain in Light.
On top of that, I finally deleted my MySpace account. Once upon a time (five years ago), MySpace was an absolute must. I'd racked up hundreds of friends and thousands of profile views, so it was a little sad to pull the plug, but I don't know anyone (except for a few musician friends and spoken word artists) who still uses MySpace. With Facebook about to roll out a music player for bands to incorporate into their pages, that will most likely be the final nail in the MySpace coffin.
I'm going to keep playing around with Google+ and see what others are doing with it. It's a shiny, new toy and everyone can't wait to play with it.