Is Google Plus the Next Big Social Networking Site?
So, what do you think of the new Facebook layout? Pig’s ear? Sophisticated and useful? Don’t really care? Whichever camp you are in, you will have noticed a lot of people boldly shouting about how they’re off to Google+ because they’re “SO fed up with Facebook always changing its layout!”
But what exactly is Google+ and what can it offer its users? It was originally intended to rival Facebook but, given Google’s less than impressive track record with social networking, that was probably an overly-ambitious aim. However, with their impressive collection of products, Google is brilliantly placed to create a network of socially compatible tools for its users, in a way with which other networks cannot currently compete.
Instead of a ‘news feed’, Google+ features a ‘stream’ of updates and information from your friends. The stream consists of four parts: Circles, Hangouts, Huddles and Sparks.
Circles is a cunning way to compartmentalise your goings on. One of the biggest problems for a lot of people on Facebook is that seemingly inevitable moment when your mum decides to join. Cue frantic untagging of all photos in which you’re smoking, removal of all comments in which you use deplorable language and deletion of all evidence of that chap you were seeing that she never knew about. Google+ Circles allow you to create groups of people such as friends, colleagues, relatives etc. and enjoy interaction privately with that group. You can click and drag people to their relevant ‘circle’ and bob’s your uncle, there they shall stay.
Hangouts is all about virtual get-togethers. You can invite people to hang out with you and others at any given time and enjoy face-to-face chatting with them in your hangout. Pretty straightforward really.
Huddles, like the name suggests, are little collections of people you can create to make planning that little bit simpler. If you’re trying to organise a night out for example, texting back and forth between 5 or more people can become a logistical nightmare. Huddles allow you to create a big old cluster chat and organise things quickly and in one place.
Sparks are what make you tick. You can tell Sparks what kind of stuff you’re into and it’ll fire back stuff it thinks you’ll like. Have a search through the items available in Sparks and if you like what you see, click ‘add interest’ and you’ll be kept up-to-date. It’s a great idea in theory but it’ll be interesting to see how Google+ stops it from just being a valuable marketing tool for those who might want your interest. So it’s wise to use it carefully.
Now is a good time to check out Google+ as it’s still in its relative infancy and it’s also enjoying some healthy interest due to Facebook’s makeover. You might be unsure as to whether the world really needs another social network, but it’s certainly worth checking out. Waiting for your social groups to migrate over might be the sticking point for a lot of users, but only time will tell.