What is Google+? Is it a valuable networking tool, or just another social media platform? Marcy and I received invites to the semi-exclusive network more than a week ago, and we’re ready to share the pro’s and con’s – all the down and dirty details of this new network, and why we think writers should jump on the band wagon.
Google+ (G+) is Google’s newest outlet to grab a share of the social media pie. G+ is a little like Facebook, and a little like Twitter. What G+ has done is capitalized on Facebook’s most criticized but intentional weakness – privacy. Only share the information you want to share with specific groups of people – and fully delete your profile any time.
What we love about G+:
Wider audience of like-minded individuals
One week after joining G+, Marcy and I have each garnered a network of over 250 writers of all genres who are looking to network, self-promote, and learn the craft. The range of expertise is wide, and professionals are willing to help out those just starting out. After only a week, a real community has developed with writers groups popping up, writing prompts, and mutual sharing.
No inane texted posts with horrible spelling and grammar
One of our biggest pet peeves with Facebook are the inane statuses and photo posts. I actually had a friend post a photo of his son’s first successful potty experience – no joking. Eww. On G+ very few people are sharing with their entire network about what they had for breakfast or how drunk they got the night before. And, perhaps because we are largely networking with other writers and grown-up techies, the atrocious spelling and grammatical errors that we find physically painful on Facebook, are missing. (Yes, I’ve actually been ‘un-friended’ for correcting spelling on Facebook.)
Intelligent and interesting posts
People are sharing intelligent and interesting posts that are relevant to writing, and some just funny. People are mutually sharing and liking blogs and other networking opportunities. Our Girls With Pens blog actually receives more referrals from G+ now than from either Facebook or Twitter – where we’ve been networking for months.
Complete Integration of Google tools
Youtube, Google Maps, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Gmail, Chrome – it’s all built into G+. So, because I have my Gmail open all day while I’m working, I can immediately see that someone’s commented on a post or put me in their circle, check the notification all without leaving Gmail. Awesome! No more having 4 windows open to keep track of everything.
Drawbacks to Google+
Complete Integration of Google Tools
I love working in Firefox, but to download any special apps – like the app that works like Tweetdeck for Twitter, you have to use Chrome. Google is rewarding you for using more of their tools. Sneaky. Not sure if I like that or not, but am sure that I’ll eventually succumb just to have access to the useful tools they’re offering for integration.
No direct private messages
Facebook and Twitter both use private messages and G+ doesn’t. You can direct a message at only one person, but anyone viewing their profile can access that message. We really miss this feature, and hope that since G+ is still pre-beta that they’ll implement something like this eventually.
No business pages — yet
If you’re a non-profit or business hoping to get into G+ you’re outta luck – for now. I expect this will change. G+ is said to be verifying public personalities – so that is neat if it’s true. So – if I add Alyssa Milano to my circle – is it the real Alyssa Milano? hmm…
Only real names
If you prefer to use a pen name, you’re out of luck (real names only) 😦 Even if your name is so common that there’s a thousand of you in every North American city – too bad. Guess how many Lisa Wilson’s there are in the world?
So, what do we really think?
Lisa: I find myself spending more time on G+ than on Facebook. I started out on Facebook to connect with personal friends, and networking is something I’ve begun to do. On G+, I began looking to network and build platform and have formed social circles with a wide variety of people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. The people on G+ are immensely friendly and eager to help spread the word about the work you’re doing – as long as you reciprocate. I love that you can edit your statuses and that there’s no limit to how long they can be. The long and short – If I could convince all my family and friends to join me on G+, I’d quit Facebook altogether.
Marcy: I love that on G+ I don’t need to have a separate private profile and public business/author page (more about circles and how they make that possible in my post next Monday). It simplifies my world to be able to handle my private life and public life in one place. If G+ added a private message feature–which I really miss–and all my friends, family, and professional contacts moved to G+, I wouldn’t mourn for Facebook either. But here’s my hesitation. How will G+ change once it goes public? How much of what we like about it is because the pool of users is currently limited? I’m interested to see how it plays out.
With over 10million users flocking to the platform for the field trial, it’s popularity speaks for itself. The integration of the full set of Google tools is inevitable – and in my opinion welcome. G+ is going public on July 31st, you’ll need an invite to join before that. Experts expect a huge influx as all the techies who got in early blog/tweet/Facebook/Digg/StumbleUpon, etc. about the platform and spread the good news and everyone heads there on July 31st.
So – will you be joining G+ when it opens to the public? Marcy’s posting about the in’s and out’s of navigating G+ next Monday – any questions for her?