Google+, the latest and greatest social network, hit the Interweb about 4 months ago in a limited field trial. A select group of, oh, 25 million people or so were invited to poke around and check things out. Last month, Google+ opened its doors to the public at large, so now you only need a free Google profile to get started.
But why join another social network, you ask? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer, but the web is all about choice. Providing a new way to connect, share and collaborate might just be a good thing. With privacy and sharing features that differ from Facebook’s and a posting format longer than Twitter’s, Google+ is quickly becoming a contender in the social media market. I’ve been looking at G+ through the lens of a workshifter lately, and I’m finding all sorts of benefits for those of us who work in online offices.
Expand Your Network
I’m meeting all sorts of new people on G+. Whereas it can sometimes be challenging to follow the fast-moving Twitter timeline, G+ offers many neat filtering options that let me streamline the way I see folks – kind of like putting a magnifying glass on my social feed. By dragging and dropping people into Circles, I can surf by interest (adding people to lists on Twitter takes more steps than I’m willing to bother with). Most people on Google+ spend a lot of time sharing great content like links and videos, meaning there’s an opportunity to get involved in some fun conversations. Google+ also allows long-form posts and displays comments pretty well, so it’s easy to follow the real-time updates.
Since Google+ is owned by, well, Google, the search functionality is powerful (and even more powerful now that the site is public). For example, I can search for “fiction authors” and find posts where users are discussing writers, or I can search for people who actually are fiction authors themselves. Because Google profiles can be really detailed, they are extremely searchable. Think of what this means for connecting with others you’re interested in and what it means for them being able to connect with you – powerful stuff. If you spend most of your time working alone, you are better able to reach out and network.
Organize Your Interactions
The Circles functionality is fantastic. You can create groups for any number of interests and organize your information streams any way you like. You can have a feed for close friends and another for book club buddies. Then, you can read and share information with just those people. Not everyone who follows me on G+ may be interested in my latest course development techniques or my veggie lasagna recipe. Google+ lets me have different conversations with different groups, which is great for connecting with people who share our particular hobbies or industry.
Want to meet up with friends but can’t get everyone together in person? Dump them all into a circle and invite them to a Google Hangout, a multi-way video chat that holds up to 10 people. Google recently added some new “Extras” that allow you to name hangouts, create shared notes and sketchpads, integrate Google Docs and share screens. It’s all nicely consolidated on one screen, too.
All in all, I think Google+ is one to watch, especially as a workshifter. It’s robust, and for those of us who live online, it’s got plenty of features. Why not give it a try?
Photo Credit: Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net