Google Plus – The Guide:
Has Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn just found its match in Google Plus?
Google Plus – The educated persons social network? Let’s take a look in-depth at the new social network from the big G:
Well someone had to do it so here it is, the definitive guide to Google +:
So with over 20 million people already using the brand new social network from Google, mobile inquirer gives you the low-down on what is on offer:
With users already sharing over 1 billion pieces of information daily, we think that Google plus is certainly going to change things in the social networking arena.
Having used Google plus now for a week or so, this guide aims to highlight some of the more unique features on offer and goes on to explain the network in its entirety and how it may be used by individuals and businesses.
You will find no better guide on the Internet and we wholeheartedly recommend you share our hard work with your peers, friends and lovers.
It will make you more popular than you could ever have imagined, we promise!
Ok let’s go:
If you want an invite to Google + please click here:
Google plus, so what is this new social network all about then?
Google have been threatening to muscle in on its web rivals Facebook, Linked In and Twitter for some time, when content and traffic is king in the online space, you can see why Google have not rested until Google + has finally emerged.
The early days of Google’s social networking desires:
Google have already made attempts at muscling in on social networking type activities. The arrival of Google Buzz and Google Wave quite recently basically sank and buzzed off pretty damn quickly, partly due (in waves case) to the concept not being fully fleshed out and partly due to negative press regarding Google’s method of making Gmail users automatically part of their first social network (of sorts), something which they may actually not regret now that Google + has emerged.
Google Plus = leaner, fitter, stronger, more private and initially exclusive:
Google + will be the last effort we see from Google, and if this does not work they will seriously have to wonder if they have missed the boat for going more social than Google currently offers….will it work….yes. To what degree? Unsure, but from inception it has been popular unlike its slightly mute sibling before.
With such a huge user base of early adopters, techies and Google lovers already, and all by invite only. The tack taken this time by Google in getting users on board Google + is in complete contrast to the spray and pray method of Google buzz.
It holds true that exclusivity spreads interest and desire and also forces people to read into what a new idea/concept really means to them before they take the plunge to join.
A great tactic I think.
With Google + currently only on invite only, you will need to know another person who has already joined in order to send you a haloed invite.
You will need a Gmail account to sign up, but trust me when I say it hands down beats any other email client I have worked with.
Google Apps accounts are not supported currently so like I mentioned above you will need a Gmail account to get going with Google +.
Once you have accepted your invite, you will be taken to a profile area to complete your own personalization of your profile, this allows you to add information such a birthday, location, name etc and a tagline for what you “stand for” etc.
Google Plus Cheat Sheet:
Like Facebook and Twitter, Google + has its own mini language syntax in the form of mark-up that specifically works for Google + users. Here is a cheat sheet to get you up to speed with the ability to mention friends etc in your posts.
Image courtesy of BuzzFeed:
Why another social network though?
Question I posed to users on Google +
Why do you recommend Google + to friends and colleagues?
“I would recommend it because it is the most fluid and true representation of the Internet was created to do: the free exchange of ideas. My experience on Google+ has been enlightening and delightful. From interesting articles on topics I usually don’t read, to useful information about things I use everyday, and even some healthy and respectful debate from differing viewpoints.”
– Ravarius Castor
“Because the users’ average intellectual level is sky high if compared to any other network.”
– Bèrto ëd Sèra
So Google + what do you look like?
Put simply I think that Google + looks like a very clean version of Facebook.
And why should you join?
Many people are saying that it is like starting Facebook all over again with the benefit of hindsight in who you allow to be part of your social network.
So where Facebook has become a bit…erm, Faceless. Google + aims to be a useful collection of like minds, friend’s and peers.
With an undoubted focus on IT and tech professionals to date, it is starting to look like the bastard child of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter but time will tell what it morph’s into, there are some great features for all and we are about to discover all of them at its current stage, which is still essentially beta!
So lets actually take a proper look at Google + I have included videos for each section so you can actually visually see what is going on..at the time of writing I have only spent about three hours in total using Google + so do not have many friends currently, if you want to add me by all means say hi I am Anthony Munns on Google +.
Google Plus Home:
Very much a Facebook type thing, the Google plus home stream is so similar to look at we are sure you will get the grasp of it straight away but there are some unique nuances that will appeal.
Key things here are that Google + uses a + 1 button in place of the Facebook like button, posts with new replies/comments start back at the top unless they are seriously old, and you can mute a thread that is becoming a bit dull or boring.
All the content that appears in your stream is from the activity going on with friends in your various circles.
You are easily able to share links, video, location and photos, and also when you come to share this content you are able to also choose who gets to see it via an option of public (all) or just within certain circles, a new option called sparks will be covered at a later date.
An option to initiate Google chat (a great communication tool that has had me glued to Google over Skype ever since it was introduced in Gmail) is also included.
The right hand side has options for who to add as friends based on your own friends and your contacts, and also an option to start a Hangout video chat with a group of people.
Google Plus Profile:
This is pretty straightforward and if you are an existing Google account holder for Gmail you will already have a large amount of this data added.
Otherwise, simply go to your set up area at the top right when logged in and scroll to “profile”.
Once there you will be able to add quiet a lot of detail about who you are and what you stand for.
Categories that currently exist are:
- Places Lived
- Bragging Rights
- Looking For
- Other Names
- Search Visibility
On the right you are also able to add links to other social networks, and blogs that you are affiliated with or own; company or personal.
You are also able to add your own photo to this area in typical small square format, this will be brought through to various other areas of Google + like on most social networks.
With privacy being such a huge issue now on social networks, Google has tried to place that control firmly in the users hands and has an export function if you choose to leave that will allow you to take all your data away with you and erase all traces of your profile in such an eventuality.
Google Plus Circles:
One of the most distinguishing and important features of Google + is Circles:
With circles you are able to group your friends into smaller sub sections such as Family or Business.
The method is pretty straightforward, you simply drag your contacts/friends into a circle that you want each person to be associated with, if you need a new circle simply create and name it, rinse and repeat.
While Google initially suggest who is in your contact list (something I actually dislike as it looks messy to get your head around initially and puts me off) it does have some benefits and you can then add these people into as many circles as you wish.
You can import your contacts from your desktop, Hotmail and Yahoo.
A key part of Google plus is you can follow and not have to be followed back unlike Facebook to see updates of that person or group.
For each circle you create you are also able to see the individual stream that relates to that particular circle and make sure certain pictures or links do not end up in the stream where your mum is. You get the point.
Circles are a great feature of Google + and really set it apart from Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin in a really novel and user friendly way.
Google Plus Sparks:
Are you sick of people aggregating content and adding very little to the social experience? Sparks aims to offer something a little more.
Sparks basically works as a content recommendation tool, so when you are seeking information about a business, famous person, film or band etc, you simply type in your query and see what the big G has to offer, in terms of how it chooses what content is most relevant or valuable I really do not know but imagine a pretty complex algorithm based on amount of social traffic it has already and links pointing to the article as usual SEO defines quality.
It’s a very good tool for staying within Google + and will probably allow SEO professionals another method of monetising their services once things get sussed out!…big question will be how much it gets used.
Google Plus Stream:
Very similar to Facebook, the stream you find when you click home will show you what is being said at the current time, this differs from Facebook in that content that is being commented on recently gets priority with the aim of keeping quality topics that are worth discussing in the mix, I get totally lost with Facebook’s method but question how this will work once thousands of people are all connected….time will tell.
Within the stream you are able to add photos, video, links, and +1 type recommends it actually works very well even if it is mainly a copy of Facebook’s interface, why mend something that is essentially not broken I say.
Filter the stream:
On the left hand side you are able to filter down what you see within the stream so this will probably be the answer to my above point when things get too busy you can have a circle called…..dull and place all the people you find a bit boring in there and make sure you click the circle called interesting to make sure you only see content from these people in your social network within the stream…..sneeky but nice.
The right had side offers s little more options for adding friends and suggest people you may want to add to Google + and invite them along.
Google Plus Hangouts:
So what are “Hangouts”?
Very unique to Google + and potentially the feature that has people coming back for more, hangouts offers users a chance to have groups of friends chatting on mic and webcam.
The feature works well with a few interesting takes on the traditional webcam model, firstly the main video will keep switching to whoever is talking at that time, you can mute and un-mute people and yourself, and you are able to block people for abusiveness.
Jointly watch a Youtube video: A great feature that I got wrong initially when I looked into Google hangouts was an option to discuss a Youtube video, so a great feature for collaboration and dare I say it the porn industry in general.
I can just imagine the sites that will spring up surrounding this new feature:
hangouthussys.com is still available I think.
Online focus groups:
I personally see this as a great way of arranging online focus groups especially if a video is available to watch between everyone and discuss later.
Google Plus For Businesses:
Just like Facebook and Twitter, businesses are very keen to tap into this kind of thing and time will tell to what level Google offer this integration.
Google have stated that they are working on a business version of Goole+ on July the 6th but will not say any more on the topic, and Google have stated that they do not want businesses creating profiles just yet.
But as a networking tool I can only think it will seriously rival LinkedIn if only because it does sharing content a lot better and offers a familiar Facebook style interface that works better, having second mover advantage means that people will use this network more effectively than perhaps they did with Facebook which is more of a friends reunited network in my opinion….I nearly typed “was more…”…ooooh….Facebook = MySpace version 2?
Google Plus Mobile App:
[pro-player width=’560′ height=’350′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhxqbjgoJgg[/pro-player]
With an Android app out straight away and now the arrival of an iPhone app. Google aims to make sure it’s mobile version really works where Facebook’s is pretty average. Both the tablet and SmartPhone versions are very similar offering a good quality social app that will allow you to stay connected with your new social network with ease.
One huge gripe if you are restricted on data with your mobile contract is the fact that by default it automatically uploads all the photo’s you take with your camera phone and adds them to a (private) photo album in Google + to be easy to share at a later date. This seems very intrusive to me and I switched it off straight away when I realised that photos taken with my phone were already on my Google + profile. Luckily it had not automatically shared these photos otherwise I would have felt a Google wave privacy issue coming on!
Google Plus Huddle:
Similar to Beluga or GroupMe this is a group testing feature and allows users who are logged into the app version of Google plus to be able to text within the Google + application.
Google Plus Privacy:
Google has attempted to mitigate the issues it faced with Google Wave by allowing you much greater control over privacy.
Once you join you will see that you can make sure your profile is not indexed by search engines and also that you can export all your data should yo decided to lave at any point.
Future of Google Plus:
The rumour is that Google are going to be bringing in Google game with a hook up with social game software company Zynga, after vesting 100+ million dollars in the firm. This is almost definitely going to happen to some degree and will mean the humble web browser may again be usurped by another social network. It seems like life in general you will be one or the other eventually!
I really hope you liked this article and if there are areas you want clarification on by all means ask for this in the comments. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook using the links below….Cheers.Anthony Munns