Okay, I’ll admit it. I am “that guy”. I am the guy who seeks out something new, tries it out for a while, and if I like it, I’ll unconsciously try and push it onto others without really bothering to understand the importance of it to others. I’ve done this in the past and sometimes it’s worked out for the better, like convincing people to move away from MySpace and give Facebook a try. You know who you are, and you’re welcome. Other things I’ve been into haven’t panned out so well, such as the BlackBerry PlayBook I bought for $500, which later went on a permanent sale of around $150. To those who did this with me, I’m sorry.

However, in this write-up, I have a little bit more insight into the future of the product. Not to mention there is no cost to you to invest and experiment – unless you hold a very high value for your time.

“Hang on. There are already a slew of other social media platforms out there, and I already have Facebook, and even Twitter.  Even if G+ has nice features, why go there?”

I will state now, that my time on Twitter has gone from once or twice a day, to maybe once a week. Or, just when I need to know what’s going on right now, such as when my internet service provided seemed to be out, and found out through searching, it wasn’t just me, but the whole province. G+ could have easily accomplished this too, but only if another Manitobans are on there to report the findings.

Facebook is still used often since all my family members and friends are on it still. If I have a moment in my life involving my daughter for example, I go to this site still to upload pics and stories. Again, G+ can do the job just as well, if not better with its easy and fast method of selecting which Circle to share with. (More on Circles later in this article.) That said, my time on Facebook has been reduced dramatically, and I find myself not tolerating its flaws, such as the ads (for others, since I use AdBlocker), the News Feed not remembering to show me the Most Recent, the lack of searching other people’s posts, lack of formatting within posts (more on this later as well) and the really unstable app Facebook has for Android. Word has it that the iOS version isn’t all roses and daisies either.

Other social media such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and FourSquare just aren’t seeing my time anymore. They all have their quirks, but none of these ones require a daily use from me.

YouTube, that of which is owned and run by Google, is working its way into integration with G+. Just the other day I noted that while on YouTube’s home page, in the main feed, I saw a person I follow on G+ shared a video. I went to that individual’s G+ page and sure enough, said person had shared a YouTube video. Cool.


“Alright, now give some examples of what Google+ does, and how it is better.”

No problem.


Easy to share with public, or just specific groups of people (Circles)

Yes, one can change their privacy on a post at will on Facebook. But maybe you want this particular post to be shared with only family members. Or maybe just fellow co-workers since it’s not really something for all to see. Heck, maybe you just share a nerdy article about Android with only those who you know care about Android. The #1 social media giant does allow sorting of your friends using Lists, but have you found it to be an easy process?  I don’t. In fact I’d consider it tricky, and I know a lot of family members probably don’t even understand it can be done.

The bigger question too is, what if I made my post public? The odds of some random stranger seeing it is practically nill. Maybe I want to ask the general public a question about my phone. Who sees it publically? Also, hashtags are non-existent.

On Twitter, this is great. It’s meant for that. But if I wanted to make a private post to my followers, I’d have to lock my account to private. …Now no one will see my Tweet, even if hash-tagged. Not to mention the character limit. I still struggle with how I can shorten a question or comment into 140 characters to get the point across.

On G+, I just select a circle, many circles, community (like Facebook Groups – more on this later) or public. Now I’m starting conversations with people all over the place. Both with useless and useful information.

As mentioned, handling your circles is very easy, and dare I say fun. Everyone is shown in little “dog tags” (my own opinion on what they look like) and you just click and drag a person, or however many you select and move them into a circle. If they suit more than one category, that’s fine. Drag them 2 or 7 circles. The freedom is there.

Just as an example: I once asked, “Is PSN down still? #PS3 #Sony” and received answers faster on G+ than Twitter. Facebook? That may have worked if my friends were online – the ones who have a PS3 anyway. Even then, they may not know why.


There is also the ability to share your circles. I have one circle that is simply a collection of fellow Winnipegers within the creative community. Like Twitter has with Follow Fridays (#ff), one can share an entire of circle (if they have publically visible) into the feed. Easy to do, and works well for users who see the shared circle, since they can click on it, and follow who they may choose.
Mobile App

The G+ mobile app is gorgeous. I had a friend, an iPhone user, tell me this before I even discovered it. (I may have still owned my old BlackBerry at the time.) It flows well, loads fast, but only a few posts past what the screen shows (so it doesn’t load a huge feed immediately and kill your data).

Also I haven’t encountered any bugs with it yet. It just works on both my Galaxy Nexus and my Asus Transformer Tab. From what friends have said, it’s been a great experience on the iPhone as well.

When commenting, you’re once again not limited to a few characters, and even use a bit of custom formatting, like bold, italics, and strikethrough. I can also +1 (equivalent to Facebook’s Like) each individual comment users to make to one’s posts. Along with +1, the ability to report/flag responses is there too.

Posting to a G+ Community is easy as well with the mobile app. Just start writing the post as you’d normally do, then when selecting which Circle to share to, pick the Community, and then even the sub-division within the Community will show up. Boom. You’re post is where it needs to be.

Also, if you’re an Android user, odds are, your photos are being backed up to Google’s Instant Upload. Now all photos I take bounce between my phone, tablet, and computer when logged into G+. No one sees them until I let them. Sharing is easy!

No character limit. Small formatting. Freedom

Twitter is limited to 140 characters. G+ has 100,000.

Facebook, used to be 600, but upped it to 63,206 to take away one of the threats.

G+ does allow formatting though. Although that may not seem like a big deal, if you do happen to write out a large article, like this one, being able to bold this, or italicize that, comes in handy. All you do is add a * before and after a word for bold,  _ character for italics, or – for strikethrough. Typing with a + or @ first will bring up G+ user names.

Speaking of which, if I’m participating with a public conversation, and I want to mention some stranger who’d particular point I am replying to, then I just start typing his name after the “+” and his name will show up first in a list. Hit enter right after he’s seen, and boom, the work is done for you. This even works within the mobile app. Very handy.

On another note, G+ takes on the feel of a public forum, like Winnipeg Heights, Android Central, Jeep Forum, etc. That of which leads me to a tangent, and my next favourite feature…

Communities

Somewhat new, Communities have really taken off. Facebook has Groups. If you want to setup something with a group interest, like what I’ve done for Call of Duty [WpG], that’s doable. But stumbling across it isn’t easy. I have to invite people, and they have to invite friends, etc. The search is there in Facebook, but it gets a little jumbled among People and Pages.

With Communities on G+, you can find one easily, and others get recommended to you depending on what you choose, which pages you follow, etc.

For instance, I joined an Android Community. It has sub categories. I can follow the whole community or even parts of it. If I did that, it would show up in my main feed and is easily identifiable.

So far I’ve been active in several Communities, including Winnipeg, Canada, Android, Call of Duty (official), WordPress, HTML5, Nexus, Asus Transformer TF300T, Evernote (official) and more.

To go join some random group on Facebook isn’t quite as easy, or open. Twitter just doesn’t work this way, and is very dependent on hashtags.

Personally, I can see Communities being the new forums.

Search

It’s Google. What’s to say other than the search works. If I search for a keyword, with or without the “#”, it gives me results, and fast. I see people’s posts (doesn’t happen (yet) on Facebook) and can enter a conversation with ease. Mentioning someone within a comment list is also as easy as typing +First Last Name or @First Last Name and even if I am not friends with them, it shows up because it knows. Works via the app too.

The search also easily breaks up results between People, Pages, Posts, and Communities.

Hangout

You’ve heard of it. Instead of Skype between two people, about 4 or 5? It works really well. I don’t do it a lot myself, but it is awesome, and lots of fun.

Integration

Since I’m using Chrome, I have a notification button built right into my browser, top-right corner. Out of the way. If someone’s mentioned or contacted me, or someone responded to a post I commented in, I get a number showing. I click on that, read, respond, and I’ve never left my web page. This might even work on Safari or Firefox – not sure as I don’t use them.

Yes, I think the other social media ones have this too. But I haven’t found them to be as clean, nor as contained. (Some send you to the website if you want to reply.)

Visuals. Profiles, streams, and more

G+ does often get accused of the white space seen on the right-hand side. But other than that, the layout is so nice and intuitive. It is no wonder Facebook is trying to copy it. (Inside joke.)

When you visit someone’s profile, it can be a slew of detail. You can have as much info on yourself as LinkedIn if you wanted, but each tiny section of your profile can be broken up and shared with only certain Circles of your own choosing. It is by no means an all or nothing deal.

Photos are all laid out nicely when viewing. No issues there.

Notifications! Notifications, everywhere!

I am a heavy Google user. I’m on YouTube, Drive, Calendar, GMail, Analytics… You get the picture.

No matter where I am, I get a nice little red box telling me I have a message, +1’d post, or new follower. I can just click on said box, respond, and carry on. Yes, I mentioned I have this in my browser as well, but, for those of you who don’t, this can be pretty handy.

“Wow, there are a lot of points there. But I go there even to peak around, I see nothing. It’s like a ghost town. I don’t get it?”

Well of course. Assuming you are on Facebook, do you not remember back when you first logged in? Unless you have an account, you cannot even “browse” Facebook. It’s just one page. Then, until you get a bunch of friends on there, it still looked like a ghost town. The same goes for G+.

Except, the bonus of G+ is you can jump right in. Search for a topic you might be interested in. Fancy in playing golf? Search that, find a post that looks interesting, and comment if you will.

Just treat G+ like Twitter first. Find your interests. Find celebrities, companies, public entities like CNET, etc. Eventually, as more people do this, more people you know will be on there. Then G+ will migrate and merge from Twitter to Facebook. For me, it’s like a fantastic hybrid between the two, and only the best of each shines.


References

My own experience. There is no better teacher, than your own experience.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3004448/plus-one-proof-google-plus-will-prevail

Info Graphic – http://mashable.com/2012/05/31/google-plus-reasons-to-switch/

http://socialmouths.com/blog/2012/11/14/why-google-is-better-for-community-than-facebook/


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