I think it’s safe to say I get easily excited about things, but being a social media intern the summer when Google+ launched, I was pinging off the walls. I was invited to Google+ on the morning of July 8, 2011, after I begged my friend who posted, “Got Google+” on his Facebook wall (irony) to invite me. Within an hour and a half, I had eight people in my circle! What is a circle, you ask? Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you aren’t fully engulfed in the social media scene, you may not have even heard about Google+. It is Google’s social networking site. Some people say it is Google’s version of Facebook because they have similar layouts, but after spending some quality time with my own Google+ profile, I discovered that Google+’s features are uniquely its own, and it brings new “lingo” to the social media vocabulary. Therefore I’ve created the Google+ Glossary: a description of some of the words and phrases I’ve encountered on the new platform. (Disclaimer: some of these definitions may use Facebook terminology, so if you don’t understand Facebook, email me and we’ll talk.)
Circles: Instead of having “friends,” you add people to your circles. Circles remind me of Facebook lists (remember those?) where you can place people into a category and choose what information you share with each category. For example, I have a Business Contacts circle (these people will NOT be seeing the pictures of my Yorkie dressed in a raincoat), a Close Friends circle (get it, close circle of friends?), etc.
Privacy features can be set so people are unable to see which category they are in. Do you ever get friend requests on Facebook that you really don’t want to accept? On Google+, you can put people in a circle where they can’t see much more than your name and gender, and they get a notification that you added them to a circle. They feel cool; you feel safe from judgment. Google+ even gives you the option to choose which circles see each post.
+1: This is Google’s version of a “Like” button. You can +1 a friend’s post, funny link, photo, etc. Also, when you search for things on Google.com, you have the option to +1 websites, which can show up on your profile as sites you like or recommend.
Stream: Just like a Facebook newsfeed. This has a lot of different settings I am still trying to figure out. You can choose what type of posts and people show up on your stream. When you want to share something like a funny video, link or just say whatever is on your mind, you type it into the stream tab. There is no posting on others people’s streams as with Facebook Walls. You can, however, comment on other people’s posts and +1 them.
Sparks: Sort of like Google Alerts. You can type in a topic of interest to you, and Sparks will show you the latest news and websites related to that topic. You can then add these interests to your Sparks sidebar “for quick access,” as Google says.
Hangout: A video chat feature where you can talk with a group of people at once.
Even though Google+ is initially a little difficult to get the hang of, it has amazing potential. Google+ is at an advantage because it sat back and watched other companies like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn work out the social media kinks. Google had time to discover what people didn’t like about other platforms and made sure those problems were addressed in Google+. This is best explained by my currently favorite feature of Google+: You can edit a post AFTER you posted it! A typo queen’s dream!
Google+ combines the best of what all the other social media platforms have to offer. It’s like Facebook for sharing and connecting with others. It’s like Twitter because you can add people you don’t know, like celebrities, and “follow” them. It’s like Foursquare because you can check in at certain locations via smartphone. Note: The Google+ mobile app is currently available only on Android market devices and iPhones, but will soon be on others (http://www.google.com/mobile/+/). If you don’t have one of these you can still check in via the Google+ website on your mobile web browser. I’m also using Google+ like a second LinkedIn because I can share certain information with professionals and certain information with friends.
The business pages on Google+ are still taking shape, and the platform will run a business page test soon. I can’t wait to see where this thing will go! What is your favorite Google+ feature? Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!