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.
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?