Google+, the alternative to Facebook, is now 3 weeks old and has amassed 18 million users, according to Mashable's latest stats. The Google+ iPhone app launched on Tuesday, joining its sibling app for Android-based phones. The sky is the limit for Google's social network and if I were Facebook or Twitter, I'd start taking notes.
I've been using Google+ for a few weeks now, both on my computer and my iPhone. Compared to other social networking sites, I'm willing to bet that even a caveman could use Google+. Granted there aren't as many features as there are on Facebook, but nonetheless it's refreshingly easy to use. What's more, the new Google+ iPhone app is on par with the Facebook and Twitter apps, sporting a sleek interface that's easy to navigate. Since Google+, or G+ for short, is more like Facebook than Twitter, I'll focus on the former and tell you exactly why I think Round 1 goes to Google.
Stream vs News Feed
Like Facebook, Google+ allows you to post content to your profile. You can write a status update, post a photo or video, share a link or even share your location. At first glance, this sounds exactly like Facebook, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll notice some nice little features on G+. Want to add one of your videos from YouTube to your stream? No problem. Just click on the video icon, select the YouTube option and a window will pop up, offering full integration with the popular video site. Perhaps you want to "check in" or attach a location to your post. Unlike Facebook's check-in feature, which only works on your mobile device, Google has embraced the powerful combination of HTML5 and the Geolocation API to make this possible, even on your desktop computer. And last but not least, you'll notice the share box on Google+ is lightweight and self-explanatory. Just four small icons for sharing a photo, video, link or your location and a bar below your post, showing you exactly which circles will be able to view your post.
Circles vs Lists/Groups
Facebook added list creation to its site awhile back and millions of people started creating their own personal lists like "Family", "Coworkers", "College Friends" and so on. When Facebook launched Groups not too long ago, lists took a backseat and it became more difficult to view and manage your lists. Let's face it, Groups didn't really take off. It just seems like too much work to create a group, invite people into it and then go to your group page to post something. Enough of this nonsense — it's circle time.
Google doesn't have lists or groups, it has Circles. The people you put in your Circles are essentially the people you "follow." Why is this a brilliant idea? Well, for starters, this solves that age-old question — How do I be friends online with my boss without sharing too much? Create a "Bosses" circle and each time you post to your stream on G+, decide whether or not to include that circle. And for our GigMasters performers, I think you'll find that Circles will allow you to neatly categorize your connections. Create a "Fans" circle and share photos and videos from your most recent events. When you want a little privacy, then just don't share your post with your "Fans" circle. And I think you'll like the slick animations that come with creating and adding people to your circles. In conclusion, Circles may be the best solution to organizing your connections out of all the social networks.
I'd love to hear what you think about Google+. Has it lived up to the hype? Are you using it more, less or about the same as Twitter and Facebook? As a performer, how do you see Google+ fitting in with your GigMasters profile and other online profiles? Will you create a Google+ account to further market your talents as an entertainer?