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Google+ First Impressions

Deserving of Facebook comparisons? Well, yes and no.

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Google+ First Impressions
[ Social Media]

Now that I’ve finally been allowed by the grace of God and Google to join their new social network, I thought I’d quickly run through my sub-24 hour membership impressions of Plus.

Google+ is first and foremost my third major social network. I dabbled on Myspace but it never really grabbed my attention and I’ve yet to really explore LinkedIn the way I probably ought to. But I’m pretty involved in both Facebook and Twitter, having joined the former almost 8 years ago and racking up around 800 tweets in a few months on the latter.

So it is impossible, at the outset, to look at Google+ through entirely fresh and unbiased eyes. It is likely then to suffer comparisons to other social media sites that I am much more familiar with. Of course Google+ doesn’t have to be compared to Facebook, but when talking about it for the first time, comparing and contrasting helps.

Are you on Google+? If so, what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

But on first inspection, it doesn’t really suffer, because Google+ feels natural. It sort of feels like other social sites while also bringing an element all its own. Does that make any sense?

The Stream

For instance, as a user of Google+, your main point of entry is your stream. And yes, it does remind you of Facebook’s News Feed. In the status box where Facebook asks “What’s on Your Mind,” Google+ asks us to “Share what’s new.” From this box you can post something in plain text to those who have circled you, share pictures, videos, links and location – or a combination of those elements. A geo-tag can be added to a video post, for instance.

Like both Twitter and Facebook, your stream seems to run in chronological order on Google+, with the most recent posts (your own included) appearing at the top. It’s hard to tell how Google+ will decide what to show me once my stream includes hundreds of people – it would be impractical to show it all. But with only about 10 people currently in my circles, my stream is filled will everything that they are doing – posts, photos, videos, links, etc.

As far as the interaction with your friends’ posts, it works in the way you would expect. Google+ lets you comment and share the posts of the people you follow. Google’s recently unveiled +1 works in a similar fashion to the Facebook “like” button. Once you or others click it, there will be a display that you and _____ “+1′d this.”

You can also +1 specific comments on posts.

The share feature allows you to share everything, not just the media. On Facebook you’re unable to share your friends’ statuses, only links, videos, etc. On Google+ you can share pure “statuses.” This gives it a sort of Twitter “retweet” feel as well.

Google+ will remind you about privacy on post that were shared with a limited audience -

In all, the Stream is perfectly fine, if nothing revolutionary – yet. It allows you to perform the functions that you’ve come to expect from a social network. You will find that each post, whether it be a video, link, photo or other, will display the privacy level at which it was shared – public or limited.

Privacy

And that’s what truly feels different about Google+‘s sharing system. Whereas on Facebook you can control privacy by putting friends to predesignated groups and detailing everything that they are allowed to see and not allowed to see, Google+ lets you do that in real time.

Every post you make comes with the decision of who to share it with – family, friends, coworkers or any circle that you’ve created. You can also share things with just one person if you’d like. There is also an overarching “public” button to share your posts with everyone.

From what I can tell, the default selection that Google+ makes is to share your posts with your last selected group.

Without a default group already selected to share with, the process of having to click specific circles each time you post would be truly tedious. Good thing Google doesn’t seem to have made this mistake. Although it may be better in the future for the default to be the most shared circle or your most populated circle.

Circles

Probably the most talked about innovation that comes along with Google+ is the concept of Circles. And from my limited experience, I really like the way they are implemented.

There is an actual “circles” page that allows you to add and edit your circles with your existing contacts. Google+ suggests circles like “friends” and “acquaintances” but the real fun comes from creating your own circles. The drag and drop method of putting people in categories feels strangely fun. Especially if you want to relegate someone to the “d-bag” circle or “Dante’s 7th circle” as one of my friends told me he puts people he doesn’t like.

Google+ is also constantly suggesting that you add people to your circles. When somebody adds you to one of their circles, you are immediately given the opportunity to add them back as part of the notification system. On people’s “About” pages, there is a button on the top right similar to the “add as friend” Facebook button that allows you to add them to as many circles as you see fit.

Naturally, people can be copied to multiple circles, as sometimes a person in your life can be both a friend and a coworker (or family and a “d-bag”).

Google+ will scan your Gmail contacts for possible + contacts as well.

I feel like the “circles” concept is what’s going to endear Google+ into people’s hearts. Something about categorization just feels neat and natural. Plus, the circles really do help you share things with the right people.

YouTube, Everywhere

Since it is Google+, it should come as no surprise that YouTube is already heavily integrated into the user experience.

First, when you choose to share a video, you are given the option to upload one, which will allow you to drag and drop the video or snatch it from your computer, or you can use YouTube’s search to find the video.

This is a really nice touch that is going to become a hugely popular feature. Think about your Facebook wall – what percentage of it consists of music videos from YouTube? 80%. 90%. That’s obviously an exaggeration but in all seriousness people love sharing videos from YouTube.

The YouTube sharing is smooth and easy. It even allows you to preview the videos inside Google+ before you add them to be shared. Of course, with YouTube being a Google property, it would seem silly if some feature like this wasn’t a part of Google+. But it is, and it works great.

Although I haven’t had the chance to really play around with Hangouts yet, I can report that it is YouTube integrated as well. Your hangout party can not only video chat with each other, but can simultaneously watch YouTube videos with each other as well. I don’t think it needs to be harped upon just how fun this feature could be.

As far as the Hangouts vs. Facebook/Skype battle goes, Hangouts does allow for group video chat while Facebook/Skype focuses on one-on-one. Hangouts also has a few features that Facebook’s video calling doesn’t have yet. These include both video and mic mute buttons and a detailed settings page with troubleshooting.

Random Observations

One thing I can say that I really like about Google+ is the interface. Simple and clean, the home page provides direct access to just about every feature on the site. The top bar features the photos tab, profile, circles and a search bar to find people on the network. Your stream and chat features are the only things taking up real estate on the left side and the right side features a series of suggestions like “start a hangout” and “get Google+ for your mobile device.”

About that mobile thing – a native app is only available on Android at the time, but they say they are working on an iPhone app. The apps are going to play a big part in the real-time nature of photo and video uploading as “upload from phone” is already an option when you click to share a pic or vid.

For Android users, just install the app and enable Instant Upload to see a stream of your photos and videos for your choosing. iPhone users, in due time, in due time.

I’m not sure if this is just a problem for me or if it true of Google+ users everywhere, but my invites aren’t sending. Google+ is telling me that they have been successfully sent to my friends’ email addresses but they aren’t receiving them. It looks as though they are still making it tough to get in the party.

[UPDATE: Google opened up an invite window last night. It didn't last very long. More on that here]

And so ends my first impressions. There are naturally other facets of the social network that I’ve failed to mention, but I’ve only had it for less than 24 hours – gimme a break.

On first glance, I’m impressed. For people used to Facebook it will feel a little foreign, but not too strange as its setup is pretty intuitive. Is Google+ the future of social? I’m not sure about all of that, but I can tell you that even in its early stages it shows quite a bit of promise.

Will Google+ be a huge success for Google? Can it compete with Facebook? Let us know what you think.

Google+ First Impressions
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  • http://www.sigididesign.com Vezu

    Josh, i like your writing. You have a good sense of humor. How did you manage to get an G+ invite?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mauconline mauco

    Thanks for sharing this! Makes me more eager to receive my own invite too… :-)

  • Karl

    Google is pretty good at the interwebs. Facebook should definitely be at least slightly terrified.

  • http://tech-ature.blogspot.com/ Gabriel Silva

    This is one of the best articles about Google+ that I’ve read!

  • http://www.flooringamerica1.com joan

    Sounds fantastic! That is the biggest problem with Facebook! You never know who is reading what! Sounds great – I cannot wait to change and be one of the first.

  • http://www.kovka-istrazone.ru Andrey

    Google + test suspended registration. I think everyone will be available soon.

  • http://www.horselogs.com Lisa Spidell

    I will not be using google + as I am not happy with their adsense and adwords services, and do not wish to further contribute to their attempt to dominate the online marketplace. Facebook and Twitter are working just fine for me.

  • ToeMan

    I got my G+ invite and upon using it, I find so far that this is not going to be a Facebook killer in it’s current form. The idea of circles is nice because currently I have no family on my Facebook friends list because most of my post are a bit raunchy. This eliminates that in a more straight forward manner where family can be split off in one circle and I still don’t ever have to talk to them.

    What I really want from G+ is intregation into Twitter, Linked In and possibly Facebook. No point to updating Twitter, Facebook and G+ seperately. Until this happens, expect G+ to be in the back of the social network line with Myspace.

  • http://www.tden.com King Ralph

    I can’t wait til they come out with Google minus as we’d be better off without Google. Now if they come out with a Google Gargle that would be something to get excited about.

  • http://www.cheap-traffic.net/ Lee

    This is quite a tall order to be honest, I mean to compete with Facebook which has over 600 million members is huge. However theoretically people do tire with things over time and do move on to new things, this being said you would assume if anyone can do it Google can.

    Lee

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    +1 is too awkward; they should have used the word Plus like Like, or better yet, used a different icon for their button, such as this;

    • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas
      • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

        http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Egyption+Icons&view=detail&id=FA0B36EB6215C550588A163B7A51C04D066C22B9&first=0

  • Tony

    Everybody knows someday Google will rule the world. It will be a huge success, bye, bye Facebook.

  • Marty

    CIRCLES MEAN NOTHING IF THERE IS NO SEARCH ENGINE PRIVACY

    Huge Google Fan! I’m a web professional and use nearly all of their products every day. I was enthusiastic and excited at first about Google+, evangelizing to my friends about how great it WAS. But then I found out about their privacy policy, which doesn’t seem like a big deal to most, but I don’t want my photo and name to be searchable. People say it’s the same as the Google profile. But it’s not – I don’t publish my Google profile because I have that option (G+ does not). Call me paranoid. I simply enjoy my privacy. I also was a little creeped out by how G+ immediately uploads each photo you take with your phone straight to Picasa. It’s a great feature but at the same time, I’d rather not publish ALL my photos. I looked but couldn’t find any way to control that feature. What if I want to take a photo of something I don’t want to be online? Imagine that! No thanks. I deleted my G+ account yesterday. I was invited early because I am an early adopter and generally a proud Google user. But I’m finished with Google stepping on my toes. However, it is quite interesting reading so many comments from people who are slowly letting their rights to privacy slip away. I suppose most people are followers – I am not.

    For what it’s worth – I think Facebook’s days are numbered too. People will grow weary of it the same way they did with MySpace. It’s just the way people are. It’s simply a matter of instinctive human psychology. Depending on how fast people guzzle the Google+ Kool-Aid, that day of reckoning may come sooner than later.

    • http://www.renegade-advertising.com Felix O

      Thanks for your articles. I can’t wait to get on and test-drive Google+. I think it is an awesome addition…

  • http://hazelmitchell.com Hazel mitchell

    Tried the Hangouts option this morning … it was pretty cool. Yes, you can do it elsewhere on line, but something that is missing on Facebook.

  • http://www.justudios.com Jodawg

    Not a big fan of facebook due to poor privacy control. Without me ever giving them my phone number, somehow my cell phone number got displayed on their site. I don’t even have a smart phone or internet. I believe they got it from a friend’s phone, but now I get about 20 spam calls a day, and they all got my information from facebook.

    I’ve shown examples where people had their accounts set to private and their images can still be grabbed on the net. It is usually found by a google image search or a friend of that person reposting the image. That will never be resolved, so for me all social networking is a turn off.

    I like the google search engine and most of their tools. They have tried a social media before but it was horrendous. Will google beat facebook? No, I don’t think so. Will they be a success with google +1? I’d say yes.

  • Bill

    I personally don’t like google+ as I don’t have a gmail account (I use google apps) and therefore am unable to access and find out how cool G+ really is. I think it is kind of sad that Google treats its apps users so poorly.

  • http://www.renegade-advertising.com Felix O

    Well, quite a ride hah? I am still waiting for my invite so if any of you out there have an invite just lying around…hit me up. I am itching to get on and test-drive Google+. Good article though and thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.ocodewire.com Krishan

    I think this was an evident move before facebook could come up with search engine integrated with it’s website users. I am hoping to see search war between the two giants soon.

  • http://www.signagelive.com Jason Cremins

    Hi Josh,

    Great post thanks for the review. Any chance of a Google+ invite?

    Jasson

  • http://www.RedSunDomains.com David

    We will include the Google+ in our next website launch due in Fall 2011.

  • Amir Abbas

    Hi I Need Google+ Invation Please Send Me
    My Mail Is a.bashash@gmail.com

  • http://www.keynote-speaker-motivational.com Ginger Dailey

    I have installed Google +1 on my sites but it was not until I read your article that it occurred to me to go join the network and check it out. I think I’m not that unusual for a web designer and search engine marketer, often times we are so busy trying to stay on top of changes we neglect to take the time to actually understand them.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Jenny M Legg

    I can’t afford anymore money to pay out at this time. I would love to try it to see if it is better than Internet Explorer. I have windows 7. Bought last August.

  • Catherine White

    Thanks for these insights. I need an invitation if anyone could send one, it would be appreciated.

    creatingworth@gmail.com

  • http://www.wineandspiritstravel.com Marcia Frost

    Great story with lots of details, but I’m still scratching myself and saying, “Why?” Aren’t we all on social media overload?

    I belong to about a dozen social media sites. I can honestly say that I already spend 3-4 hours a day on it. Most of it is business, but regardless, how much can people really handle? I can’t believe everyone is going to drop Facebook to use this, no matter how good it is. It’s just going to dilute the (very large) pool.

    I think there comes a point where people will just get tired of interacting with each other on so many different mediums. I wish Google had put there time, money and resources into something other than a Facebook clone. Even if it is a little better, there must be other things the internet world needs.

    Marcia

  • http://www.myhaackdl.com Dean

    google will never be a fb winner there not a social page there for finding things on line and dam good at doing it. but they will never be social network. You can do about the same things on fb but google is faster
    .

  • Dana

    Would love an invite! Thanks for the info! dhess8@gmail.com

  • Pete Dashwood

    Good article, Josh. For me the question is not WHICH social network is superior but whether I want to be on ANY of them. I have never joined Facebook or MySpace because it seems to just be a huge amount of noise and pointless nonsense. (I don’t mind nonsense for amusement sake, but this is just an overkill.) There is an excellent comment in the movie of “The Social Network” which really sums up my feeling: “…you think that every thought in your head is so clever it would be a crime not to share it.”
    I am on LinkedIn, but I joined it many years ago when it was a purely professional network, and then it was only because some people who had worked for me wanted a recommendation to help further their careers.
    I don’t want to know which of my friends is at the supermarket, neither do I want to tell people about the status of my love life, and I value my friends enough not to devalue that status by gaining “friends” on Facebook. I have always seen a potential for misuse of Facebook and some of that has already become apparent.
    Categorizing people is an attraction of Google+? Not sure about that. I like to think that people can surprise me (and I them) and I don’t want my life to be too organized, especially when it comes to the people I interact with. I find the idea of categorizing friends repugnant, but I understand the principle with Google+.
    I guess time will tell. Meantime it is great that there is a viable alternative to Facebook (monopolies are seldom a good thing). In closing I can say that despite not being on Facebook, my life has not suffered in any way and I take some comfort from the fact that my private life has not simply become fodder for people who want to sell me stuff.

  • Davíð

    I been using G+ for few days, learned a lot about it and how to use it better.

    Only part I can see Facebook being better from my view is the “Games Apps”

    Here are few extra things about G+, it can be your blog. I haven’t seen limit on message so far, seen these huge posts. A person can add you to their own “circles” like they may have one called “Interesting Blogs” then when looking at their Stream they pick “Interesting Blogs” and it shows up all posts by the ones in “Interesting Blogs” as long as they are “Public”.

    Only information you need to share is “First Name” and “Gender” Gender can be “Other” So only thing you need to share is “First Name” rest can all be hidden. So Privacy is not an issue. To see a G+ Profile you do not need any account if that profile is Public.

    You can also have same person in many different circles, such as I am a gamer and may have some gamers at my Circles on G+ but I don’t want them to be in my “Friends” but some of my “Friends” are gamers also so I have those people in both my circles “Friends” & “Gamer”.

    You can also edit photos you already uploaded, you can drag and drop photos, videos, and more straight into “Share” area.

    As you saw on Hangout you can view “YouTube” videos, when viewing YouTube video all Microphones are muted and need a button activation, until video is paused. As everyone is watching the video at same time, one pauses, pauses for all.

    Also more about Privacy, when you add something to the “Stream” such as a Status, you can pick “Disable Sharing” and/or “Disable Comments”

    So far Google has not suggested a single person to be added that I do not know. Unlike Facebook that only does that.

    Here is my favorite part, when clicking Notifications I see who posted at what post, I can open it up at the small Notification part and see the newest comment, I can also pick show all comments and EVEN COMMENT. All in the Notification menu. From my Gmail, Google.com, almost any Google site, I don’t need to enter plus.google.com to comment back and read all comments.

    Did I mention currently there are no Ads what so ever ?

    There is so much more, I am in love with G+, plus G+ sounds nice doesn’t it ?

    And nice Article ya wrote Josh Wolford. Very nice!

    • http://garten-und-grillen.de Chris (Garten und grillen)

      Thanks for the hints about Google+1. Special Thanks to Davíð – interesting inside-information.

  • http://www.letitpay.com Vanda

    Great review Josh thank you saved me spending a lot of time on Google+ and if people ask I can now at least sound like I have a bit of an idea and from what you have said recommend people check it out for themselves.

    Thanks again.
    Vanda

  • http://www.ronyox.co.cc manyunte

    Thank you for this opportunity…on Google+

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  • http://www.semidoppel.com Semidoppel

    I have featured an article on my site same to this. And i am really fascinated what google+ can do. This is a very hepl fultool for bloggers to gain readers and follower. I can’t wait to experience Google+

  • http://cellulitehowtogetrid.com susanne

    How did you get a google+ invite I would love to give it a try :)

  • http://www,theanaloguerevolution.com Pete

    I think Google are basing their business model on the Eric Cartman Cartmanland theme park, where he had the genius idea of not letting anyone in, making them desperate to get in!

    I got an invite but didn’t act upon it, the page STILL says “We’ve temporarily exceeded our capacity. Please try again soon.”

    I am going to wait and get on it but only because this is my profession, if I was a normal user I would just think stuff it, why should I wait for it when I’m quite happy using FB where all my friends are.

    By restricting it only tech people are really on it now (Google + is currently 90% male), so when more start joining they won’t see their friends as they have not yet been invited. this is how FB worked, because circles of friends all joined up at the same time. Normal users won’t have the patience to wait around for something they don’t see as any different to FB (how could they if they aren’t allowed in).

    They need to open it up NOW as they have missed out on a massive amount of press coverage already outside tech news by not doing a proper launch. Despite good reports about it I think they have messed it up again with this very poor launch.

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    It is yet to be seen how successful G+ will be but first indications are good.

  • http://search.engine-optimization.gr Search Engine Optimization Greece

    First of all thank you for the great review it was very informative!

    I definitely believe that Google with Circles will be the next player in social networking in general, and in my opinion big G will make the difference (again)!

  • http://www.thefrist.info thefrist.info

    我希望收到一个邀请!

    • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

      我也是!

  • http://www.youtube.com/my_videos_annotate?v=UzzSKVPW1LY Alec Ward

    Personally I wait until others find the problems, then I wait until the developers sort out the hiccups, then I wait to see if it becomes successful, and then I might have a look.

  • http://www.theshiftingparadigms.com The Shifting Paradigms Book

    Good post…As an Internet Marketer I better get into myself! Thanks for the update!

  • http://guitarandblues.blogspot.com/ gregory

    I really enjoyed it.

  • Vic

    Can we quit talking and hyping a service that will go nowhere, please? Only WPN is talking about it. :-) There is Facebook and they are the king of social. All people’s friends are there. Nobody wants that sorry Google attempt at social called Google +. It will die just because of the silly name alone.

    Thank you.

  • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

    Good to hear a review of the service… I think it could be the start of a hit, familiar but unique… time will tell…

  • Wallee

    It’ll be great until Google monetizes it with Adsense Ads and marketers get a hold of it – then it’ll be downhill all the way . . . just like Myspace and Friendster.

  • http://bestofukraine.com BestOfUkraine.com

    Thanks for the review! At first sight it seems to be a bit complicated, plus you can really say if you like it or not, when you start getting friends in there to interact with, like in Facebook. So, the time will show. But the idea of circles is nice. Facebook is lacking that.

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  • JustPassingThrough

    Got an account there and it’s not as great as I was hoping from the articles I read. It feels like a site I can just dump and forget about tomorrow without a care in the world if I wanted to.

  • http://www.tampainternetmarketing.net tampa internet marketing

    The Hangouts feature definitely looks like fun

  • https://plus.google.com/108216444992736334753/posts Joseph

    Hi

    I love Google Plus, I have been a Facebook user for 3 years or more,

    Google plus, has a lot of cooler features and Hands down, I am in Gmail all day anyhow, so its just way easier to be “social” if you ask me,

    Google Plus will be a win for google for sure.

    Joseph

  • http://pariurisportive24.ro/case-de-pariuri/ case pariuri

    I’m not a Google+ user but it seems attractive to me. In conclusion I will try it and I will come with impressions.