Is Google+ the Facebook killer?
I don’t think so, but I do believe it will overtake Facebook in dominance for social media. Back in May, I gave my reasons why Facebook was putting itself in a position to be overtaken, and that the only thing preventing Facebook’s fall from dominance was a viable competitor. Now they have a viable competitor. Though there is much room for improvement, Google+ has entered the arena as a major threat to Facebook.
Just as mentioned in my article, ‘Why Facebook Won’t Remain Dominant’, FB was, and is, making enough people angry that they will jump at the first opportunity to rid themselves of this company. Not only have tens of millions of people already switched over to Facebook, many are proactively closing their Facebook accounts. I have no plans to close my account, but this shows the eagerness of people to escape a company that has forgotten how it became dominant. And Google+ isn’t even public yet.
In the coming series of articles, I will be posting how to use the current features of Google+ and why it’s a better option than Facebook. Though I’m maintaining a Facebook account, I am using Google+ as my primary networking tool. This first section will spell out why.
Google+ Advantage – Circles
Google hit a home run with how it organized circles. A circle is a group of contacts that share a common interest. I’m a writer. So I have several writing circles. I’ve created circles for all my writer contacts – which numbers in the hundreds. As people migrate to Google+, that number will likely hit the thousands again.
If I want to post a message that only is fitting for a writer, I post it to my circle of writers. By default, messages I post are designated for all my circles. To limit the post, I remove the circles I don’t want, and add the ones I do. See below.
By clicking the ‘x’ I remove ‘Your Circles’ and then I click add more people to see my circles. You’ll see something similar to the picture below. In this example, I’m selecting my ‘Writers’ circle.
You can add as many circles as you want. Often, you’ll have users in more than one circle. No worry. The message is only posted once. The circle only gives users the right to see the posting. So if someone is in more than one circle, they will only see the message once.
With circles, your posts are only visible to the contacts you want to view your message. This is especially helpful when collaborating – such as a critique group.
Circles are helpful for other things as well. You can select which circles can see certain photo albums. This way your family photos can be shared with family and friends, but not with the whole world.
Chat. You can designate who has access to ping you in chat.
Huddle. Using Google+ with its chat features.
Hangout. You can set up a video conference and make it known to only the circles you are wanting to meet with.
I’ll give specific details on these topics in another section, but for now I just want to mention that they are easily managed through circles.
Google+ Advantage – Using Circles to view posts.
I use social media for networking. I network with a lot of people I don’t know and will never know. Some of those people have interests that don’t appeal to me. Sometimes acquaintances become friends but often they do not. Writers love to network because it’s important to establish relationships in the world of publishing. Sometimes I post something that I want everyone to see, and sometimes I post what will only interest my friends. My contacts in social media post similarly.
The problem with Facebook is that I never see posts from the people I am interested in interacting with. By the time I check my FB account, someone’s post is now buried behind thousands of other posts. For this reason, I miss valuable opportunities to interact with my friends and family. Now that I have Circles, that is no longer a problem.
If I want to view the posts my family has made, I move my mouse to Google+ streams, and click on Family.
In one click I’ve filtered out everyone except my family. I can now click through each stream of posts to make sure I’m current on the postings of the people I’m interested in. Instead of having someone say, “Did you see my post?” and then wonder what I missed, with Google+ I can easily keep up with the people I’m closest too.
This feature alone is worth the effort to switch.
Google+ Circle Organization Tip
As your list of contacts grows, you’ll want to have an easy to recognize system. I recommend nesting circles by interests. There are some default circles in Google+, but you’ll want to create nested circles that you can easily identify. For example, here are some of mine.
Friends and Family
Friends – Christian
Friends – Close
Friends – Techs
Friends – Bloggers
Friends – School
‘Friends and Family’ is the primary circle. Everyone who is in any of the circles with Friend or Family is under the main circle, ‘Friends and Family’. Then I subdivide friends into one or more of the other circles. Family is in one circle. School friends are in once circle. Techno-buddies are in one circle. There will be overlap since some people will fit into several of these circles. Using circles and nested circles, if I want to post something that is related to blogging, I can make the post only visible to my blogging friends. I post something for all my friends to see, I can post to the main circle.
I have a similar structure for my writing friends, business contacts, etc. I also have a circle called ‘Everyone’. Anyone I’m connected with goes into then everyone circle. Some people have suggested creating a separate set of circles for the streams you want to see. Then you’d create a circle called Stream-Close Friends, Stream-Family, etc. For me, my interests and my posts are closely matched, so I think it would be too much to manage a separate set of circles. But that may be something to consider.
Google+ Advantage – Unlimited Contacts
I’m not sure why Facebook has a limit for friends, but they do. Go over 5000, and you’re forced to create a fan page. For the average user that isn’t a problem; however, if you’re building a network to reach a wide audience, you can max that out. Once you do, Facebook forces you to create another source to manage.
I dislike fan pages. They are not easy to keep up with in my opinion. It’s hard enough keeping up with posts on my account page, but to then have to go to another site to check for comments is too much.
Also most users don’t think about fan pages. Rarely do I visit a fan page. I check for posts made by my friends and then move on. I don’t have time to visit dozens of fan pages to see what’s going on.
During the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, I worked downtown. Vendors were everywhere. The Olympic committee oversold retail positions and some people were assigned spots in dead end alleys. On the radio a merchant complained that they spent thousands to get a booth but were stuck in a dark alley where no one ever walks.
That’s what a fan page is like to me. It’s down an alley somewhere that I never go. Sometimes someone sends a notice that reminds me they are down one of these Facebook alleys, but other than that, I click past and never look down the dead ends.
This isn’t a problem with Google+. As many contacts as you can muster will flow through your stream. The only limits are what you put into place by managing your streams through circles.
Google+ Advantage – Unlimited Characters
Twitter has a limit of 140 characters. Facebook has a limit of 420 characters. Google+ has no character limit. At least not one that I can see. If you’d like, you can post your blog entry into your Google+ stream for all your friends to see. It wouldn’t be surprising if Google put limits at some point in the future, but chances are it will be a character limit that far exceeds the limits of their competition.
These are some of the Google+ advantages that appeal to me. I’m sure others have their lists as well, but when it comes to choosing a social network, these things play heavily in why I prefer Google+ over Facebook and LinkedIn. I have no intention of abandoning other social networks because I have valuable relationships in these. However, I use Google+ as my primary social network and will do so from now until the foreseeable future.
In the upcoming articles I’ll examine how to manage photos, create a hangout for video conferencing, and using a huddle for chatting in Google+.