Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are growing exponentially. If you aren’t using them, you’re falling behind… The newest to hit the scene is Google+. It has been around for just over a month, and there seem to be some mixed reviews on it – is it worth it? Is it not? One thing is for sure: users are certainly more interested in this social networking endeavor of Google’s than their past experiments, like Google Wave and Buzz.
Making Social Networking Exclusive
Not just anyone can sign up for G+. Before you can even log on and begin tinkering around with some of their neat social networking features, you have to wait around for an invitation from Google or a person who’s already signed up for G+.
One thing that it has done well with that Facebook has neglected is putting “friends” into certain groups, so that only those particular people will be able to see certain posts that you put up on your social networking site. Sure, Facebook does have “groups” that you can create, but that process is a bit cumbersome for most social networking users. With G+ you can create “Circles”.
The basic concept behind this social networking feature is that not everyone who is your friend on Google+ will have the exact same interests as you. For example, your co-workers may not have much of an interest in what you did on Friday night, but they could want to hear about any issues or upsets that you have had at work. To put G+users into circles, all you have to do is take their “nametag” and literally drag it into a circle. It’s that simple.
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Social networking-wise, many would argue that this feature is much more functional and user friendly than Facebook’s “Groups” options and the loads of limited and hidden group settings that one has to create on Facebook in order to make a social networking page more private. But are G+users taking advantage of the Circles feature?
Not really. As much as people whined and complained over Facebook’s lack of privacy, a lot of G+ social networking users just aren’t getting into the whole “Circles” thing yet. Maybe as more users join and try G+, Circles will become more of an important feature.
Who Does Newsfeeds Better?
When it comes to social networking newsfeeds, Facebook and G+ users aren’t really seeing a whole lot of a difference. Just as with Facebook, anything you post will show up on a newsfeed (as long as they are in your Circle, that is). Posts, pictures, links and everything else will all show up according to the date. One feature that alarmed a lot of G+ users initially is that private messages between users also appear on the newsfeed, but don’t worry – those private messages cannot be seen by anyone in your Circles.
G+ also offers “Sparks”, a feature where random news items and pictures are pulled up for any thing which you may have an interest in. Useful? Not really. Some social networking users may even find this feature a bit creepy since Google seems to know what their interests are, and it’s not quite clear where G+ is getting this information.
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What Is Google+ Hangouts?
If you love chatting with people over the internet, then you will probably appreciate Google+ Hangouts. Despite Facebook introducing chat with Skype to their interface, a lot of social networking users aren’t overly impressed. What they do like, however, is Google+ Hangouts.
Often referred to these days as the bet free group video chat available to date, the Hangouts chat feature will allow you to create “rooms” for you to hangout with different people or different Circles. Once you start social networking with Hangouts, you will see the faces of everyone who is in the “room” along the bottom of the screen, and you will initially see your own face in the large chat window. When ever anyone speaks on G+ Hangouts, the large chat screen will then show whoever it is who is speaking at that time.
There are a lot of other neat social networking features with Hangouts, such as link sharing and group video sharing. Everyone who is in the “room” can watch the same video together on the Hangouts chat screen. In order to talk while a video is playing, a G+ users simply has to click the microphone button on the screen to “unmute” their microphone, and then everyone can hear the user speaking.
The main complaint with G+ Hangouts is not the tool itself, but rather the slow response time which can be due to having a slow computer or a lagging internet connection, but the social networking tool itself is well laid out and user friendly.
Will Google+ Destroy Facebook?
It’s been a while since a social networking site came around that could challenge Facebook. Twitter was the mot recent social networking site to try and rival Facebook, but many would agree that it wasn’t really much competition. So will G+ be able to convert users?
It’s still a bit too early to tell. The point of a social networking site is to have all of your friends available to you at any time, and most social networking users would say that the bulk of their friends are still all frequent users of Facebook, and there are significantly less on Google+.
When Google+ first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it. At this time however, a lot of G+ users have also slowed down on their Google+ use since the novelty of it wore off, or since they realized that their friends were still using other social networking channels like Facebook and Twitter to convey messages and share information.
Google+ is opened to the public, so it is by no means finished from being worked on. Just as Google attempted to get into the social networking scene with Wave and Buzz, it will constantly be in a “work in progress” state. One thing is for sure, though: G+ will have to start getting a whole lot of new users if it wants to even rival the “population” of Facebook. But if that will ever happen, only time will tell.