At the end of June, Google launched a a beta version of their new social media service called Google+ in order to compete with other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Since that time, it has garnered enough attention to attract over 10 million people to the service. You heard right… over 10 million Google+ users in about 2 weeks. That makes it the fastest growing social media service of all time. With this explosive growth comes innovative approaches to social media, while also breaking free from the limitations imposed by other social networks. Say goodbye to character limits and say hello to animated GIFs!
One of the biggest innovations in Google+ is the use of Circles. This allows you to group your friends into social “circles” for sharing. When you submit a status update or share media on Google+, you get to pick which circles or individuals you want to share it with. If those people are not signed up on Google+, it will give you the option to send them an email with what you are sharing, as well as an invitation to join Google+.
The reason this is innovative is because it takes a real life idea (social circles) and transforms it into a user-friendly interactive interface for sharing information while maintaining a comfortable level of privacy. No other social media service does it this well. It breaks down your stream into your circles as well. If you have a Friends circle and a Coworkers circle, you can choose the
Another item Google introduced to the world recently was the use of +1’s, which is Google’s version of the “Like” button. “Google created their own Like button… so what? Why should I care?”
You should care because here’s where it gets interesting. Not only can you +1 websites, but also information and media that people share on Google+. That means it will not only compete with Facebook, but also services like Digg and Reddit. And not only that, these +1’s will affect search rankings on Google. Whoa. Just wait… it gets better. Google recently disabled its Realtime Search, a search option that would let you search for posts on Twitter, as well as some limited content from Facebook. It will soon let you search for stuff people post on Google+ instead.
It would seem Google is trying to take on social media in its entirety.
Google+ includes a nice social tool called Hangouts. This lets you enter a webcam chat room that lets you talk to up to 10 people. A great way to have “face-to-face” meetings when you really aren’t able to meet in person. I would not be shocked to see someone get into a job interview over Google+ Hangouts soon.
There is also some nice features (or as I call them “unlimitations”) that Google uses to differentiate itself from social media competitors:
No character limit. Gone are the days of being limited to 140 characters (Twitter) and 480 characters (Facebook).
Formatting. Google lets you format text in your posts as bold, italic, and strikethrough.
Picasa (soon to be Google Photos) integration. Unlimited storage of images up to 2000x2000px (larger images count toward a 1GB storage limit, and you can purchase more storage if needed).
Automatic uploading of images from a mobile device. Google+ has an option to automatically upload images you take into your photos on Google+. These will remain private until you decide to share them or put them in another album.
Share via email to people not on Google+.
Easily find YouTube videos to share.
Option to include your current location with anything you post (text, photo, video, or link).