With all the publicity that is out there right now about Google+ – its being cited as “the new Facebook” – I was going to write about it and then I got an email that did exactly that. So, here’s a great article from Michael Martine that summarises Google+ along with its pros and cons.
Another Social Network to Suck Away My Time? SERIOUSLY?
That’s the first thing I thought when I heard about Google+ (like we all didn’t know something was coming). I get invites to social networks all the time. All these new business networking or referral sites. For example, I keep getting invites from somebody for something called KILTR. Seriously? Sorry, but no.
Referral Key is a huge waste of time. It’s like they said, “Hey, let’s create a client referral network that completely ignores how actual word-of-mouth person-to-person recommendations work. In fact, let’s just make it into a bribery network!” I canceled my account there.
There are just way more social networks than anybody could ever have time for or care about. You want to be on the ones where your clients are, foremost, and secondarily where your peers are.
And there are social networks that come… and go. Plurk? Does anyone even use Plurk anymore? I mean, it’s still there, and clearly there are people on it, but Plurk doesn’t even rate against the big ones like Facebook or Twitter. That’s not to say it isn’t valuable to some, but I’ll never get back the time I put into it when I don’t use it, anymore.
And there is Google’s incredible track record of miserable, embarrassing failure with all things social.
On top of all that, you feel like you barely have time to manage social media marketing as it is.
And now there is insane buzz around Google+ and you feel pressured to join it.
There’s a Reason for the Buzz
There is a very good reason for all the buzz around Google+: it’s awesome.
Think about all the things you like about Facebook and Twitter:
- Lists and groups of people
- Easy sharing of content
- Easy posting of your thoughts in a variety of media
- Everybody you know is one or the other or both
Think about all the things you don’t like about Facebook and Twitter:
- Labyrinthine, circular navigation (both)
- Limited features (Twitter)
- Too many features (Facebook)
- Privacy concerns (Facebook)
- Wants to just be the whole damn internet for you like AOL once did (Facebook)
- Spam (both, but mostly Twitter)
Now, imagine all the things you like, without the things you don’t, and that’s Google+.
Here’s What I Love about Google+
It works beautifully
The user interface design of Google+ is amazing. Stuff just works, and it works well. The navigation is clear and uncluttered. The functional elements are clear. You know what you can do and where.
Here’s an example of the little things that make a big difference: if you mouse over a person’s little info box in the Circles feature (Circles are like groups or lists), you can tell if they’ve already been added to a circle and which one because it will get a blue glow around its border. This is an important information need, met in an elegant, simple way.
By default you have preexisting circles you can add people to called Friends and Acquaintances. I really like that. Not everyone I interact with is truly my friend, no matter how much we may like and respect each other. The truth is that most of the people you deal with online are not your friends, they’re acquaintances. Google+ understands this and bakes it into the product.
When I hover over a person’s name in the Suggestions area (people I know–or may know–whom I haven’t yet added to a Circle), a menu appears letting me choose a Circle for them. Such a graceful and perfect feature.
Much thought has gone into anticipating user needs and meeting them in the easiest, most intuitive way possible.
It looks beautiful
Holy crap, somebody at Google woke up on the design side of the bed!
Google+ looks fantastic. It embodies that maxim that good design is what you have when you have removed all unnecessary elements. Google+ is supremely functional and utilitarian with a zen sparseness. There is no clutter. I happen to like the colors (coral is big this year, and it seems somebody at Google knows this).
Even better, the new look is being rolled out to Google Calendar and Gmail, for a unified experience. You already have the new look in your Google Calendar and you can turn on the new look in your Gmail by choosing that theme from your Gmail settings.
Everybody is On It (Or Soon Will Be)
Google actually has a chance with Google+. One important reason for that is the massive number of people who have Google accounts. Another is because Google is implementing a common top framed toolbar across their services. This toolbar features built-in Google+ integration (which, by the way, also works beautifully for catching up on your notices).
Check out the toolbar in my Gmail below:
I’ve circled the links that opens Google+ in the new tab (leftmost) and the notification area (right). To recap: massive numbers of Google accounts plus integrated toolbar equals “everybody is using it.”
No Stupid Games
Google+ has no disgruntled avians, no poking, no “can I bug you with stupid shit, huh? Please? Huh, can I?” apps.
No stupid games. No taking the time to refuse and block stupid games, because there just aren’t any in the first place.
What a breath of fresh air that is.
All is not flower petals and sparkles. There are a couple things about Google+ that bug me.
- No private messaging capability (everything is really public with the exception of private and limited Picasa photo albums)
- No way to currently send an invite to a single person
I understand there are crazy workarounds for these things, but they’re too much work to bother with. It’s easier for me to just remain mildly annoyed. We already have killer private messaging: it’s called Email (or in this case, Gmail).
I’m Off to Delete My Facebook Account
I don’t say this lightly, because I hate just about every social network there is except Twitter (ironic, I know, considering what I do for a living, but at least you know I haven’t “drunk the Kool-Aide”), but I really think you should give Google+ a try.
If you can get in, that is.
You’re probably spending too much time on Facebook, anyway.
You can visit Michael’s blog here http://remarkablogger.com/