Last night, I received my coveted invite to join Google + and I immediately started playing with it while Dexter played in the background. Like so many social media nerds, I was excited to finally get my hands dirty with what some are calling a â€œFacebook killer.â€
So what is Google +?
Google + is Google’s new social network service and is currently in limited field trial. Unlike Google Wave and Buzz, Google + immediately seems more promising due to its slick design which users will love.
At first glance, the minimalist interface is very similar to Facebook.
However unlike the debacle with Buzz, Google + puts privacy in the forefront, making the service innovative and fun to use. Here at Schipul, everyone has been geeking out over it and Google + is truly, as PC Mag’s Mark Hachman states, â€œa social network for geeks.â€
The new social network service is ripped with some really cool features as well which I will discuss next.
So What about these Google + Features?
So it seems Google really thought about these features and realized that life is a little more dynamic than just the Public / Private dichotomy that Facebook and Twitter has created. Instead Google + provides a granular and exciting way to share our lives with the people we know.
This will be a basic overview of Google + features. In the coming days we will blog more in-depth reviews of each feature but for now, let’s see what’s inside Google +.
Social networking is about connecting with people and sharing information. With Google Circles, it’s really easy to do this. Google Circles is basically like Facebook friends lists and groups or Twitter lists but with more control and visualization.
Here’s an example of how they look:
Basically, you can drag-and-drop people in the circles you create. For example, I created a Schipulites circle for my coworkers. With Google +, you now have more control with who you share with at a granular level.
Google + Stream
The stream is very similar to the Facebook home feed which users will appreciate. Here is the Facebook home feed:
Here is the stream for Google +:
This is where you will enter a status update, share photos and videos, etc. As you can see the design is slick and sexy, typical of Google.
Google Sparks is a great feature that helps you find things to share. Think of it like Google Alerts that allows you to follow topics you’re interested in. Here’s an example of how it looks when I search for topics on SEO.
Google Sparks makes it easy to browse suggested topics or you can set your interests using keyword-based searches. Most importantly, it’s really easy to share content.
Hangouts: Group Video Chat
This feature is pretty neat. With Hangouts, you can video chat up to 10 people at a time. Here’s an example of how it looks from Search Engine Land.
This feature looks like it’s going to be useful especially for business meetings. The way it works is when someone initiates a Hangout, it shows up on your feed and notifies your friends. There is however a 10 person limit.
Huddle: Mass Texting and Group Chat
This is the feature, besides Google Circles, I’m most excited about. Huddles is a mass texting and group chat service that turns your different conversations into one simple group chat. Can you imagine? Bar hopping with friends will no longer be an ordeal. It will be simple and painless to get everyone on the same page or update people on where to meet for another crazy night of Red Stripes and darts.
What about the +1 Button?
Just to be clear, Google + is different from +1. Google + is Google’s social network and + 1 is Google’s share button.
Like Facebook’s â€œLikeâ€ button, the +1 share button makes it easy to identify content that you approve or think is cool. It’s a great way to recommend awesome content to your friends, coworkers and family. This is how it looks in the search results when I do a search for â€œHouston Coffee Spotsâ€ and +1’d the result.
The content you +1 will show up on your Google Profile. Just like in the way that anything you like on Facebook can be liked with Facebook â€œLikeâ€ buttons.
So, you might have also noticed Google +1 buttons starting to appear in search results and publishers adding the button to their sites. If you want to install the Google +1 button on your site be sure to check out our â€œHOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post on our SEM blog.
Currently however, the content you +1’d does not feed into Google +. It doesn’t really make sense but I suspect Google will fix this before the service becomes available to everyone. The only way you can see what people have +1’d is if you remember to go to a person’s Google profile. For example:
So that is Google + in a nutshell. In the coming days, we will post more in-depth articles on how to use Google + for your business, so be sure to keep a lookout.
If you got an invite to join Google +, we would love to hear what you think about it. Let us know in the comments below. For now, I’m going to continue getting my Google + on.
Need help getting Google+ on your website?
Check out our handy how to install Google+ button help fileâ€œHOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post and if you’re brain is still hungry, we’ve got some great social media and online technology help files to help you take it to the next level.
Let us know how we can help! Need a hand getting Google+1 on your website or blog? We’re here for you!
Radames Ortiz is a SEO Analyst at Schipul – The Web Marketing Company in Houston Texas