If you’re anything like me, you were probably up into the wee hours of the morning the night you got your Google + invite. You’ve also probably noticed that it’s extremely filled with early adopters without much noise from the average everyday user. This won’t be a review, because we’ve seen review…after review… after walk through.So I won’t bore you with that. If you’re looking for a bland walk through then you may want to look somewhere else. :)
I’d like to take this opportunity to point out some things I’ve noticed and what I think about it.
What happened when the +1 button came out? All of us went up in arms saying, “WHAT THE HELL! What is this stuff about Google trying to be social? They’re going to fail miserably. There’s no substance to this.”
Yep. That was me. But I’ve come to see that they’ve integrated this so nicely into Google + that you can’t help but admire the interface and sleekness that they’ve come barreling through the door with.
Personalization & Privacy
First off, my normal concern comes along with using anything that Google offers. Privacy. One thing Google has done right here is that while we know Google is collecting our data, at least we know that we have control (for right now) over whether users can see our +1s. And Sparks are private.
With the new shift in how we’re consuming information online, there’s also the awesomeness/concerns that come along with personalization. I lovehate personalization. There is something great about having information tailored to what you’re interested in, but for anybody who has listened to the TED talk on the Filter Bubble can understand where personalization can bring some concerns.
Google not only knows our search habits and location, but also our interests. So no longer are we just being served results according to where we are and what’s being stored, but I think we might start getting our results drilled down further depending on what our interests are and how they’re reflected in that search. I made this comparison before when talking with someone, but think politics. Each city and state has a different political affiliation. But imagine within those cities, there’s split affiliations and each person is getting results served to their location and affiliation- and not just their location anymore.
With that said, one of the best and strongest aspects of Google + is personalization. For instance- you can upload interests with Sparks to get a RSS feed of relevant links to sift through.
These Sparks aren’t visible to anybody in your Circles which is nice because it really makes you feel like Google + is catering to you with both a private platform and a sharing platform.
On the +1 front, you have the ability to catalog your+1s for later reference privately, or you can share what you’ve +1ed across the web.
One of the first and foremost things to point out is the ability to segment users into circles and share. One of the areas that Facebook fails majorly in, is the ability to pick and choose who you share with which results in people hiding your posts, or maybe even you completely, from their stream because they don’t have the heart to delete you.
While Facebook has a blanket privacy option, Google + does it right by allowing you to build circles how you see fit without others seeing your lists.
Do you secretly enjoy sharing LOLcats or Cats that look like Hitler and have a small circle or cat loving friends too? Perfect. Make a crazy cat lady circle and share away. You won’t pollute your stream like you normally do with your other networks and risk forcing your friends to make that awkward decision to hide you yet keep secretly stalking your profile. You can keep relevant information just where it belongs- with the group of people who care.
Will circle filtering and sharing certain links with certain people/groups signal Google that these people should start being associated with these interests as well? It’s an unlikely scenario but I’m curious how the social aspect of this as opposed to voluntary searching will weigh in. On the flip side, will what we share and +1 start affecting the results that we’re seeing as well and tightening the bubble around us?
The Shift Towards Sharing Links
What I like about Google + is that my stream has been happily filled with links. The links to status update ratio is probably 10:1 and that makes me not want to strangle my feed.
It seems like right from the get go, users on there gravitate more towards sharing links and information rather than a place to share status updates like Facebook. The line has been drawn where Google + seems to borderline more of a professional sharing environment that Facebook has been struggling to offer for years. It was even announced the other day that there’s going to be options for businesses on + to get analytics and sync up with other Google products such as Adwords. That’s giving them leverage over the regular Facebook brand pages already.
Great Potential for Bloggers
I have a Facebook Page for my blog. With Facebook, tons of my friends have “liked” my blog page… not because they actually care about the content and links I’m sharing from that page, but just because they’re my friends and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Google + is an awesome opportunity for blogs to hop on board and share posts and links completely relevant to the audience who is following them. Search Engine Land has already started to experiment with this.
One thing that drives me crazy about Facebook is I get a lot of friend requests. At one point I had 50 friend requests sitting in my inbox because I had no clue who they were and haven’t necessarily met them in person. Facebook, to me, is more personal. So the nice thing about Google + is that people can put you in their circles, but you aren’t necessarily forced to reciprocate that. It’s a very unobtrusive act and truly fosters the “personal” environment that Google introduces here. You can throw people in a circle for your own benefit. And if you want to, you can check out the incoming posts of users who have put you in their circle. Nothing is forced through your feed. Yet.
I’m keeping my eye on Google +. I was pleasantly surprised at the release of this and I can’t wait to see what other tricks they have up their sleeve. Or what things they can add on to make us mad. :)
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