Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

I originally started using Google+ fairly late in its beta, about a month before Google released the social network to the public. when I first signed up, I admittedly didn’t really get it at first. Not many of my friends had actually signed up yet at that point, so my stream was pretty much empty. At that point, I was trying to use Google+ like Facebook, and this lead to very poor results. Eventually, I ran across a tutorial that detailed how to get the most out of Google+, and from that point, I fell in love with it!

I was unable to find the original tutorial I found, but for those interested, the following article has most of the information that I originally read: http://www.cio.com/article/685930/10_Google_Tips_for_Beginners

 

Google+ is NOT Facebook

As I stated above, when I first started using Google+, I expected to be able to just use it like Facebook, and get similar results. However, as I learned, this is the wrong way to go about it. Google’s social network isn’t a Facebook replacement. The paradigm of Google+ is much different than Facebook. Facebook has a much more intimate vibe, where you only have one group, which is friends, and people who wish to interact with you have to send a friend request that you must accept in order for them to do so. With Google+, there is no friends list per se. Rather, there are what Google calls circles, which are much more flexible than Facebook’s friends list. Like Twitter, you can follow someone (or in Google+ terms, add them to your circles), but that person does not have to follow you back. If they don’t follow you back, you will only be able to see posts that they make public.

 

Circles

The circles that I mentioned above are a huge step forward relative to Facebook’s friend list, and Twitters followers. For one, you can have many different circles (like in real life, where you may have a bunch of friends, but some are on different levels of intimacy with you) which allows you to group people together who share similar content. This gives you the intimacy that Facebook’s friends list provides (assuming that you group all of your close friends in 1 circle), but also gives you similar functionality to Twitter. Google+’s circles makes Google+ into a combination of both Facebook and Twitter, and allows you to seamlessly switch between whichever  type of social network you want your feed to emulate. Circles also greatly improves on the paradigm that Twitter uses, since, unlike Twitter, you have many different circles, so you can pick and choose what content you want to see in your stream whenever you want. If you want to switch to a Facebook style feed, that is also very easy. When you wish to share, you can select which circles that particular status goes to, and of course you can also share publicly, so even people who you haven’t circled, or haven’t even circled you can see.

Overall, the circles system in Google+ is vastly superior to the system that Facebook and Twitter have.

 

Hangouts

For those who don’t know, Hangouts in Google+ are kind of like informal conference calls. You, and whoever else is in the hangout can video chat with each other, watch Youtube videos together, and much more. I personally don’t find myself using Hangouts very much, since i’m a fairly shy person and don’t really enjoy video chats in general, but Hangouts are one of the most popular Google+ features. It’s also a feature that is unique to Google+. Hangouts are an awesome way to catch up with family, learn about various things (Universities and other learning institutions are starting to use Google+ hangouts for free lessons and such), or meet new people who have similar interests.  Today, Google announced a low bandwidth option for Hangouts so now even people in remote locations, or with low bandwidth internet can enjoy Hangouts. This is one of the most awesome features of Google+, and really adds to the overall feel of it.

 

Other Features

Google+ has many other features besides Hangouts and the Circles system. For one, Google has been integrating Google+ with most of their other services (notably Google Apps, Gmail, and Youtube), which adds an excellent social layer to each of those services. Another cool feature is sparks, which gives you the ability to not only have streams for your different circles (and your main stream which you can pick and choose what circles can put content into it) but you can also have streams based on subjects. For example, I have a stream dedicated to video games. This stream shows public posts by Google+ users that have to do with video games, as well as various articles on the internet on video games. This allows you to still see a lot of relevant content even if you don’t have many people in your circles. Google+ also has the many standard social network features, like the ability to chat and send messages, an API for apps on the Google+ platform, and web based games that are tied to your Google+ account. The Google+ apps API and games platform are both in the fairly early stages of development, so they are certainly not as robust as Facebook, but the potential is there.

 

Quick Tips

While I am certainly no expert on Google+, I can offer some tips for those who want to try Google+, or currently have an account, but aren’t happy with the content in their stream.

First, figure out what kind of content you are interested in, and write those topics down, or remember them. Next, go to the search bar, and type in one of the topics. For example, if I wanted to view content on Video games, I would type “Video Games” into the Google+ search bar.  Once you have done this, click the button below the search bar that says “Save this Search.” Upon doing this, you should see a new entry in your streams (the right panel of the page). Congratulations, you just created your first spark! You can use these sparks to see interesting content, which includes public posts by Google+ users, and articles on the internet. If you see someone post some content that you find interesting or like, you should then follow that person by adding them to the relevant circle.

Another great use of the search bar is finding whole circles that you can follow. Google+ allows users to share their entire circles, and adding these premade circles is a great way to quickly fill your stream with relevant interesting content. Most posts which share circles are shared publicly, so its easy to find them. First, you want to decide what kind of circle you want to add, and do a search for it. For example, if I wanted to try to find a Gamer circle, I would search for “Gamer circles” in the Google+ search bar. If you need to filter the results (so you don’t see non Google+ posts), you can do so by selecting Google+ posts only in the drop down filtering box under the search bar.

 

 

In closing, I highly recommend that everyone joins Google+, especially if you love geek related content as Google+ has a very large, very active techy community! And if you decide to join Google+, make sure you add me! If you can’t find me, simply leave a commend here and i’ll circle you.