GooglePlus: a little bit private, a little bit free-for-all


You may have heard. Google has a new social network. (Yes, another one. But this post won’t be a cynical retrospective … Let’s start afresh, hey Googs?)

It’s called GooglePlus, apparently because it’s a “plus” to all the services Google already provides to us. And we might consider it like the +1 that we’re often asked to bring along to parties (What’s in a name  is a great post on the topic).

As Google reminds us, the network is in Beta and ‘invite only’ while the testing community unearths bugs and things to be improved.

Time to reload and try another social network
Time to reload and try another social network

But one very common description for GooglePlus thus far is “It’s like Twitter and Facebook combined”.

There are several reasons why users have been saying that:

  • You can share posts publicly, as you can on Twitter or …
  • You can share posts only with ‘friends’ , like Facebook
  • Your posts can be reshared by others, like a retweet on Twitter
  • You can ‘follow’ people like you do on Twitter, without them having to add or accept you.
    Similarly, you can be added to someone else’s Circle without accepting a ‘friend request’
  • The GooglePlus Circles are a little like Twitter lists: you can create and name your own Circle, and categorise other GooglePlus users, placing them in to a Circle in a way that makes sense to you.  (Then you might check what the Circle has posted, only, in the same way that many people use Twitter lists to read the tweets of a selected few).
  • You can share a link which features a picture preview of the page you’re linking to, like Facebook.

There are a lot of posts online already that critique Google Plus and try to predict its future. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I want to focus on this Twitter/Facebook nexus I’ve outlined above.

If you’re a long-time Facebook or Twitter user, you’re conditioned into how those platforms work. You’ll have to rewire that thinking to get the most from GooglePlus.

Because GooglePlus is a “little bit private, a little bit public”.

For dedicated Facebook and Twitter users, it’s second nature to know how your content is being shared.  That will take a little longer with GooglePlus, and some people have already experienced hiccups and have shared more than they expected. Although Facebook is often taken to task for its lack of privacy, many users have used their settings to create a largely private space. Many Facebook users feel comfortable enough there to post racy party photographs or complain about their boss, because they believe these posts are only for the eyes of their friends and family.

On GooglePlus, accidental public sharing could happen more easily. When you post to GooglePlus, you choose which Circles to publish to. And these Circles are often pre-chosen for you in your status update field, based on what you used in your last post.

One option is to make your post ‘public’. This means it’s available for the world to see. Including your boss. Including your ex. Including the media.

Accidentally include ‘public’ in a post – what happens then?

In FB this can’t happen quite so easily – in Twitter, you’re already in that environment where you expect it to happen and you always have this in the back of your mind. If you want something to be private, you just don’t tweet it, full stop.

You can ‘reshare’ someone else’s GooglePlus post. When I clicked onto one post to share it, a pop up appeared stating : “This post was originally shared with a limited audience – remember to be thoughtful about who you share it with”. What does that mean? Am I sharing someone’s post beyond what they originally requested?

When you share on G+, you do have an option to select ‘don’t reshare’. Not all users would be aware of this yet, it’s a very  subtle option in a drop down menu next to your status update. (You can also disallow comments, though I don’t know why someone would do that).

As I said at the outset, it’s early days for GooglePlus. The vibe is still largely positive. And it’s fun to note that we don’t always land onto a new platform and know what we’re doing, as Guy Kawasaki kindly shared:

“For days I’ve been posting to G+: no comments, no shares, no nothing. I’m wondering: How the hell can this be compared to some of the crap out there? Then I figured it out: I wasn’t posting to the general public. Oh Scobleizer, where were you when I needed you?”

Have you had a chance to try GooglePlus yet? What are your thoughts? If not – how do you feel about another social network opening up?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Valeri Rojas says:

    Thanks for the post. I actually like G+ because of the ‘little bit private and little bit open’ aspect of the product. Also, you can have more than just 140 characters in your posts which in theory can actually create a real online conversation between multiple users and businesses. For now I think I will keep Facebook as my personal ‘family/friends’ social network and G+ as my open curated social network, Twitter? Well, I am into tech and it seems that techos are moving to G+ so no much need of Twitter for me. Plus, it is becoming very spammy and most people are using it as a content aggregator site (I prefer StumbleUpon, Reddit or Digg for that). I also don’t care too much if people follow me or not so G+ is perfect for that as well. What I would like to see is Journos, TV programs, businesses and people in general using G+ as it is meant to be used, creating conversations and engaging in them. I am sick of watching tv shows where they say, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation!. Well, that is not really happening, people aren’t talking to each other, they are just sharing their thoughts with very little or none conversations at all. TV shows and businesses aren’t engaging back with their audiences either. I can’t wait to see G+ for businesses and how they will encourage engagement?.

    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks for the comment Valeri. Are you saying you plan to ditch Twitter? I’ve tried too many other Google social networks to ditch anything else I’m doing yet. And I do enjoy the short simplicity of the tweet still.

  2. Ash Simmonds says:

    G+ has its place – it’s gaining traction with me and those I’m following quite well, there were initial “well, WTF now?” kind of posts which started things off, but unlike many other new bandwagons to jump upon, G+ has been worth coming back to visit a few times a day.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned (in my circles) which sets G+ apart from FB/Twitter is the time scale: G+ has the potential to be both in-the-now and also anachronistically relevant at a later date. On Twitter something you said/saw might be profound, but it is all but lost a day/week later. On Facebook a decent discussion might come about over an issue, but again it’s dead and buried with “I’m having toast nom” updates.

    With G+ if something is discussed now, and then becomes relevant again in a week/month/whatever, you can reply to that discussion and bump it back into the limelight – much like a proper discussion forum – although I’m still not sure on the way to find old discussions easily, there needs to be a tagging system.

    Can’t wait for MySpace to rebound…

    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks Ash – yep, I think G+ will need to help us find those old conversations we want to refer back to – ‘favourite’ or ‘bookmark’ them in some way.

      1. Ash Simmonds says:

        Been thinking about it some more, having noticed a bunch of posts that made me think “that should have been a tweet/update, not a G+ post”, so I’m already getting into the frame where I think G+ is a place for discussions.

        As admin of a medium-size forum with thousands of topics already in place, I have to continually decide whether a new topic is worthy of being a discussion, or should be shuffled into an existing one in a similar vein.

        People posting what they’re watching/eating aren’t going to become a discussion, but if someone has an opinion on it – eg “this tv show highlights the blah blah of society” or “I only eat certain kinds of ethical meat blah blah” – then it can become a discussion.

        In this way – I’m thinking if you have the need to share brainfarts, you should set up your own “thread”, and just keep replying to that in order to keep them organised – ie you’ll have your own TV/food/joke threads, which makes it easier to “subscribe” to a part of your life/thoughts, without having to read everything you are saying/doing.

  3. Valeri Rojas says:

    I don’t think I will ditch Twitter just yet but will definitely be using G+ and pay close attention on how people/businesses will engage on the space. I do hope people engage and not just broadcast their info though. G+ needs to integrate G Wave technology for their real-time collaboration and should create some sort of notification alerts for old conversations. For example; Are you talking about ‘G+’?, read previous conversations about it or find out what your circles have said about it before.
    Anyway, I am sure they are thinking about all these things as we speak 🙂

  4. MissBiancaB says:

    Time for me to play…

    1. Prakky says:

      Sure is. Add peeps to your Circles, away you go!

  5. Ecocreative says:

    Ok. I am liking the sound of what does seem to be more than a crossbreed of Twitter and Facebook, especially if it is forumesque as Ash suggests and has Google’s data behemoth behind around within above it. Will keep watching the space though… _

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