I was a relatively early adopter of Google+, having signed up for Google’s new social network while it was still in invite only beta. The first thing I noticed was that none of my friends were on it. I really dug the simplicity and the lack of annoying game apps like Farmville clogging up my feed, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to because my friends weren’t there. So I left and went back to Facebook. ALL of my friends were on Facebook.
I was a buffoon.
As it turns out, I was thinking about Google+ completely bass ackwards. Trying out Google+ was like moving to a new city. When you move to a new city, do you feverishly beg your friends to move too so you’ll have someone to hang out with? No. Of course not. You go out and make new friends!
Problem: None of my friends are on Google+!
Solution: Well then, go make new friends!
That probably seems like it’s easier said than done. There’s a reason for that. It’s because you’ve been using Facebook for years, so you approach every new social network like it’s Facebook. This is a wide spread problem. Many people try to use Google+ like it’s Facebook, but it’s not Facebook. It’s an entirely different entity with a different approach required. The good news is, Google+ makes connecting with people you don’t know in person much easier than Facebook does.
Facebook is a social network used to keep up with people you know from meeting in person. Whenever I meet new people out in the wild I don’t give them my email. I might give them my phone number. More likely though, is that I’ll tell them to look me up on Facebook. Of course, everyone is on Facebook so this is convenient.
When it comes to making new friends online though, with the way Facebook is constructed it is almost mandatory that you have a mutual connection with a person to meet someone new. People have been spooked by Facebook’s privacy policies in that past so more and more people choose not to post publicly at all. With Google+ it’s not at all necessary to have a mutual contact. Meeting new people and discovering quality content is built into Google+ from the ground up. This is where Google’s background as a search provider proves their greatest strength in creating a social network. Their algorithms are built to match keywords to related content. Google+ is built around the search feature, rather than the search being a secondary feature like it is with Facebook.
Searching public posts on Facebook is buried on a secondary screen. If you wanted to find people who share your interests, Facebook doesn’t make it easy. What about Groups? The problem with Facebook Groups is that it’s not as popular a feature as it was some years ago. Also, for any given topic there can be multiple groups with low membership, or just low engagement. Groups are more like exclusive clubs. Facebook isn’t as conducive when it comes to striking up conversations with new people. Google+ on the other hand has a wealth of conversation right out in the open for anyone to join in..
With Google+ you just mosey on over to the search box and type in a topic you want to read more about. A stream of public posts on that topic fills the screen. You then start commenting on posts. Doesn’t matter if you don’t know that person. They don’t mind.
Problem: People use Google+ like it’s Facebook.
Solution: Don’t use Google+ like it’s Facebook.
This is where Circles comes into play. You can create new Circles for all of your different hobbies and interests, then follow people who are interested in the same things by placing them into these Circles. You can then share posts about those subjects just with people in those Circles. I recommend posting interesting content as Public though to get the most out of Google+. You want to make it easy for people to find and interact with your posts. You can also click the Explore tab to find the day’s popular content. Circles was such a great idea that Facebook went ahead and added a similar feature called Lists. You can make lists of interesting people on Facebook to follow but, again, Facebook isn’t as good for content discovery. Twitter is another network with Lists that I believe beats Facebook for discovering new content.
The problem with Facebook is that because it’s mostly comprised of people you know in real life there is more focus on conveying daily life’s trivialities than there is on bringing interesting web content to the world. Want to find out when one of your friends is doing the laundry or eating dinner? Can’t beat Facebook for that! Want to find out what’s new in space exploration, landscape photography, or electronic gadgets? Google+ is your best bet. Plus the interaction on topics on Google+ is much richer. None of that “LOL OMG ROTFLMFAO” littering the comments.
Another way that Google+ owns Facebook is this: You can edit your posts at any time! *cue angels singing*
Yes, edit your posts. Make a typo or place the wrong link in your post? You don’t have to delete it and start from scratch. Wonderful, wonderful feature.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook. I’m one of those nutters who loves Facebook Timeline too. It’s just that they’re different tools for different purposes. I don’t believe anyone should limit themselves to participating in just one social network.
In conclusion, the main takeaways from this post should be:
- Don’t use Google+ like it’s Facebook
- Go explore your interests and passions
- Make new friends and followers by commenting on their posts.
You can strike up a conversation with myself and others by posting in the comments section. Otherwise, why don’t you add me to your Circles on Google+? I’m always open to comments and suggestions! Thanks for reading. What have your experiences been like with Google+? What is your favorite social network and why?
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