Aug 18

What is Google+?

ccasanova
Christopher Casanova

For those who can’t get enough of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, Google has decided enter social networking realm with Google+. According to Google’s blog notes, Google+ is designed to “bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software.” Most of you are probably asking yourselves, “I already have Facebook, why should I join another Facebook clone, right?” Don’t get me wrong, Google+ is in no means a Facebook clone. It actually proves to be a worthy competitor and provides a new channel for you to increase your web visibility. However, there’s no rush in getting up to speed too fast, since Google+ has only been around since June 28, 2011.

 How Do I Join?

Due to the fact that Google+ is in its “field testing” phase, you can only join by invite-only. As a Google+ user, all you would have to do is simply create a post and mention the friends’ email addresses of those you wish to invite. Keep in mind, do to Google+ increasing popularity (25 million+ as of July 14, 2011), you are limited to 150 invites until it becomes open to everyone.

What Can I Do?

Some of the features that Google+ includes are:

“Circles” is a main feature of Google+. It allows you to organize contacts into groups for sharing content. You can organize each group by topic and no contact in a circle can view other contacts outside of their group. This makes it easy to share interest with only specific users and share relevant content. The privacy settings also allow users to hide the users in their circles as well as who have them in their circle. All the organizing of the circles is done through a drag-and-drop interface, which replaces the typical friend’s list function used by sites such as Facebook.

Sparks works like Stumbleupon.com, where it displays content to you based on your interests.  This is done automatically as each topic will get its own “Spark” page and provide links to related articles, photos, videos, etc. Also, similarly to Facebook’s “Like” button, Google+ has a “+1” button.

Hangouts are virtual rooms where you can video chat with people in your circles. For example, if you’re not busy, you can start a talk with your friends or co-workers. A nice feature is that it simulates as if the conversation were physically taking place at your location. It does this by increasing the size of the video screen to the person who speaks the loudest. This is a free and useful tool when it comes to organizing meetings.

Huddles is group messaging for people within your Circles. Select your circle, and everyone can chat with each other. This is great for quickly sending the same messages to multiple employees. Best of all, there’s a mobile app available for Android now that lets you send messages from your phone.

Why should I join?

Regardless of your opinion on Google+, it is an effective tool to use to increase your business’ exposure. It’s important to note that many users are praising Google+ for its increased privacy and security controls. Let’s say for example you are signed into Google+ using a secure connection, an https server, this provides extra confidence for those businesses. Businesses can transmit data such sensitive information and credit card payments securely. Overall, the simplicity of Google+ appears to be making social networking a more streamlined process. In the long run, this service will most likely be implemented into Google’s search engine when it comes to determining your website ranking. If you received an invite yet, you would need to find a Google+ user to send you one. Though it probably won’t be long until Google+ becomes open for everyone.

Christopher Casanova is a systems engineer for websoul . To view further information and helpful tips on system administration, view his blog at Chris’ websoul blog.

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