She said / She said: Google+

This post is the first in a new monthly series I'm doing with Lara Wellman. Lara and I will pick a topic each month and present our different perspectives. Today, we're tackling Google+.


Google+, the latest major social media network, has taken the world by storm, amassing 40 million registered users in just over 3 months, a milestone that took years for Facebook and Twitter. As soon at it was launched and for days and weeks afterward, there there has been repeated and great speculation about the effect that Google+ would have on other networks. Some say it's a threat to Twitter. Others feel Facebook should beware.

The bottom line is that we now have three major social networks now and the competition is in full swing. (I don't include LinkedIn because I see it as more niche than the others.) Personally, I don't want the networks to compete and become carbon copies of each other. There's no good point to that and I think they can co-exist and each be successful in their own rite. I was worried about this when I heard about some of the Facebook changes a few weeks back. Since then, as I've used Facebook and added Timeline to my profile, I'm not all that concerned. I completely agree that there's a race to implement the best features. My guess is that the end result of the features race will be very different.

When I log in to Google+ I get a feeling of connection with other social media and tech users. Facebook is a connector of my friends and family and that does crossover into my interests, but it's a broad mix of information. Twitter is even more broad and since I follow over 2,000 people, it isn't always easy to see posts from certain people. (Yes, I know I can use lists. That's a different post, though.) I find Google+ is fantastic for staying in touch with what's going on in the subjects in which I am most interested: social media, marketing and technology. Though I like G+, I can see why some are skeptical of its value. But I felt that way about Facebook when I signed up. I mean, who wants to share "status updates" with "friends" and play games and post scores? What's the point? Over 4 years later I'm entrenched; some would even say addicted. I get the value of Facebook, but it took time.

Just for fun, let's compare!

For me, twitter is just too different to compare to Google+, so I won't. The ease of Google+ circles is nice, but it's not the my favorite aspect; it seemed to get a lot of hype in the early days of the network. I've never seen them as being any different from Facebook lists - both work the same way essentially. Facebook's lists have been around for years (I've been using them as long as they've been around), but people seem to have forgotten them. If G+ changes to a one-click add to circle function, they'll still have the edge over Facebook lists for ease of use. I like that Google+ doesn't require reciprocal sharing, but then neither does Facebook anymore and the subscription model re-leveled the playing field for some and knocked G+ down a peg or two for others.

Ultimately, this whole competition between the networks makes no sense to me. At a mere 40 million users, compared to 800 million on Facebook, it seems silly to bother with comparisons of reach and value. Google+ has only a fraction of the mass that Facebook has achieved. Google+ may be growing faster than Facebook did, but people don't fully understand it - not even, apparently, Google employees. Just like Facebook, Google+ has it's privacy issues - your best bet for protecting your privacy is to post nothing on any part of the internet you wouldn't be happy for the world to know. Probably the biggest letdown about Google+ is the lack of a place for business. One could argue that giving users a chance to feel out the network, give it a practice run and get comfortable was a good move by Google. However, brands really want a place to reside on every network. And speculation of what the brand-specific parts of the site will be like just aren't enough.

What do I think of Google+?

For about a week or two, Google+ was the shiny object. The new kid on the block that everyone wanted to be friends with. Now it's that other network that I have to make myself remember to check. Like others, I see value in where it's going and what it can be, but it's lost some of it's shine in the wake of Facebook's latest changes. But G+ is working hard to build a powerful, user-friendly network with lots of features people want, though some think hashtags are unnecessary to Google+, they added them anyway. I like hashtags, so I'm glad Google is supporting them. So, should you care about Google+? I think so. Should you jump right in? Only if you're truly interested. Getting in there now means there won't be the same level of interaction and engagement we're all accustomed to on other networks. But we have to start somewhere. If you're interested in getting started on Google+, check out the articles below that may help you and try a little experiment - it's one I did: Don't follow all the same people you follow on Facebook and Twitter. Those people are really great, but branching out will give you a new, more interesting experience and that will hold more value than seeing the same thing on three different networks.

1) Your 10-Step Google+ Launch Day Checklist, by Christopher Penn (Awaken Your Superhero)

2) Get More Out of Google+, by Matthew Weber (Problogger)

3) The Ultimate Google+ Cheat Sheet, by Kipp Bodnar (HubSpot)

Are you on Google+ yet? What do you think of it?


Now that you've read my perspective, go see what Lara has to say! Later this evening, Lara and I are going to be talking Google+ and other social media topics in a public G+ hangout. Here's the link to my profile - just look for the hangout from 8:00-9:00 tonight or watch for a tweet. See you there!