Google+: Is the new social media tool working for you?
There’s been a lot of buzz recently surrounding the question of Google+’s utility and competitiveness as a social media tool. Bloggers can’t seem to make heads or tails of Google+’s presence, some welcoming the relief from the Twitter/Facebook social media regime, others dubious about Google’s motive for starting the service at all.
For one, users seem divided over Google+’s push to create a social networking space for individuals who avoid pseudonyms and alternate online identities. On the other hand people have praised Google+ for this policy because it weeds out spam profiles. Needless to say there are many pros and cons to the service. Here’s my take on Google+ a few weeks after its initial launch.
When people praise Google+, they often talk about the circles. As you may know, Google+ allows the user to have any number of social circles with which they can share information. You control who sees your content based on which circle you allow to see it. So you can add friends and relatives alike without fear of any unwanted information crossing over between the groups.
Your circles will be none the wiser about what you share and who you choose to share it with. Of course circles offer endless customization beyond the basic friend/family partition. And if you have someone in a circle who ends up sharing more information than you’d like to read about, simply place them in another circle outside your usual stream.
Google+ also offers easy assimilation into Google’s other services. Between Gmail, Google Reader, and Google+, you could feasibly conduct most of your online activity without ever veering away from your initial Google homepage. Gmail users who adopt Google+ will find a readily available list of users to add to their circles because Google draws suggested users from your Gmail contacts.
Google+ hasn’t been around long enough to establish a dedicated user base. People often complain that users in their circles rarely post content to their streams on a regular basis. It seems like people start their Google+ profile but don’t proceed to utilize its features beyond setting up a profile photo.
This lack of engagement can likely be blamed on a user’s inability to place Google+ among other social media tools—thinks about when Twitter started and the initial confusion over what constituted a proper tweet.
There’s also the question of whether or not we should we turn to one service for all our online needs. While it’s certainly nice to use Google to access simultaneously our favorite blogs, connect to our friends and search for new content, we should keep in mind how the centralization of resources can be exclusive to similar services.
Does Google’s social networking tool offer needed versatility among its competitors, or is it just a way for Google to be a more ubiquitous presence online?
What’s your thoughts on Google+?
If you have a Google+ profile, what’s your take on the service? If you’ve just been following the latest social media news, how do you feel about Google entering the fray?