Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Google Plus

Have you heard about Google Plus? It’s a newbie on the social networking scene, but it has come a long way in a short time. It’s going to take quite a juggernaut to take Facebook’s spot as the top social networking site – and Google might just be that juggernaut. It’s too early to tell for sure, but the new network does show some promise.

There are a couple of things that make Google Plus unique. Its “circles” feature is something that people really seem to like. With this feature, you can write a post and decide who you want to share it with. Sound pointless? Think about this: You just roll out of bed at 2 p.m. after a big night out. You’re hung over. You have the urge to remark how you’re not as young as you used to be, but last night was worth the pain. This might get an interesting convo going between you and your friends about the antics of the previous night – but, does your boss really need to see it? Oh, no. With Google Plus, you can choose to share that status with only your friends.

Another thing that people seem to love about Google Plus is its “hangout” feature. It allows you to create a virtual hangout and talk to your friends face to face (through video) in your own online video chat room. You can even all watch the same YouTube video at the same time and talk and laugh about it too. As good as this feature is for fun, it’s even better for business: you can easily hold quick, impromptu meetings in your hangout.

One feature that I’m personally still on the fence about is the post editing feature. Once you’ve posted something, you can go ahead and edit it. It seems like a good thing on the surface, but I think it may allow for some people to change their story to suit themselves. Time will only tell.

Unlike other social networking sites, Google Plus seems to care about a user's confidentiality. There are many privacy features that are able to be included in a Google Plus profile, allowing people to choose who sees what and how.

Joining the Google Plus community is extremely easy. On the front page of the website there is a section where new users can enter tidbits of information, include a photo and create their profile. You can even edit what you see (or don’t see) in your feed.

Once you get settled on Google Plus, you may find the “What’s Hot” feature to be compelling. It’ll show you what topics are trending on this social network (similar to what Twitter does). The thing that sets Google Plus apart here is the ability for a user to customize the topic in the “What’s Hot” area, so you can see what people are talking about within your own area of interest.

As with any new social network, there will be a short period of adjustment when you first start using Google Plus (think about when you first started with Facebook, or when you switched to the new timeline), but it’s relatively easy once you get the hang of it. This may just be your new social network of choice.

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