Google+ Review-While Keeping it Real

Back on October 10th, I decided to significantly increase my use of Google+.

So how has this experiment gone?

Actually Google+ does pretty much what I it want to do as far as a social media hub.  I know that Google+ has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed by almost everyone it seems over the past 5 months or so.  Will I add any new or earth shattering ideas on different uses or views about it that others have missed? No.  It is just a review of Google Plus based on my experiences with it and why I decided to make it my primary social media hub.

Google+ Screenshot 10/20/11

Things that I would like to see

  • post directly from my Blogger blog. Now I have to manually post and link my blog posts, which is not a big issue, more of an inconvenience really, but would seem to be a feature that Blogger/Google+ would integrate more quickly than they have, especially with so many people using Blogger.
  • the suggestions for people for your Circles could be more aligned with Sparks or Circle names. My address book is not always indicative of the type of people that I would want in my Circles or to follow.
  • Not allowing psuedonyms is a problem for a lot of people for various reasons, but Google seems to have reversed course on this one a bit and appears to be allowing them in the future.
  • Have a link to my Google Voice account in the sidebar, I would find that more helpful than gChat.
  • Have more of my friends and family on G+ – nothing Google can do about this one. 🙂
  • Column views for the feed similar to TweetDeck or others.

I do wish there was a way to make the stream into a column view like I have on TweetDeck for Twitter and could just pull the tab/page over to the side.

Screenshot showing cutoff of Google+ in shrunken window with G+Stream

Unfortunately, G+ doesn’t shrink when you reduce the size of the window, it cuts the page.  If it shrank I could use the G+ stream in a window as a sidebar, continue using the rest of the browser for whatever and still be able to monitor the stream – which is what I do now with Twitter.

Screenshot of TweetDeck in background with Twitter stream

Hopefully, TweetDeck will include G+ into their program like they have with Facebook and LinkedIn, but since it was acquired by Twitter – I wonder if that will happen?  We will see.

Features

  • Circles – of course no choice in the matter.  It is more difficult to figure out how to organize and name your Circles than using them. You can just see the streams of those Circles you want or the main stream.
  • Sparks – good place to go to find people who write about and share similar interests as you have
  • Google Chat – Never Used, haven’t used chats in any program or OS since I started using Twitter.
  • Profile – I linked it to my blog
  • All of my posts or shares are in one place
  • +1’s – I really like how they keep track of all the stuff you +1, so you can go back to it again if you want
  • Picassa – integration is slick
  • Hangouts – Used it earlier in the summer – very easy and intuitive.
  • Games – I don’t usually play them on the web, but they are there if you want/need them
  • Just recently G+ started to support #hastags, another way to find subjects/interests.
  • One of best one is there are not endless menus of check boxes that you need to find to change settings.
  • Data Liberation is easy – I downloaded my entire Picassa/Photo library to .zip files
  • The ability to edit entries after posting – you know when you notice how badly you spelled, missed words or other errors that need to be fixed.

Chrome Extensions

Also I have found several Google Chrome extensions that have helped make Google+ more useable.

  • +Photo Zoom
  • Extended Share for Google Plus
  • G+Twitter for Google Plus™
  • Google +1 Button
  • Replies and more for Google+

I even started putting my running log in G+ as an experiment, posting publicly and to my RunLog circle to hold myself accountable. I don’t run so much for time anymore and it gives me more of a holistic running log entry, which I am liking so far.

Not a Power User

I am not a Power User, who switched over to Google+.  I am just a 50 something, pretty ordinary guy, who likes many Google products.  I had to look around to get an early invite (thanks Richard) and started playing around with Google+ over the summer, but wasn’t too serious about using it.  However, as Facebook began to make all their recent changes, like a lot of people I got really uncomfortable with them – even more than I had been already (which is saying a lot).  As a result of their changes I decided to look a lot more closely at Google+ as a serious alternative to Facebook.

Choice

Although both Google and Facebook both have had their problems with privacy issues in the past, I felt that I had to make a choice about which free service I trust more with my personal data (I don’t trust either one completely).  I had to decide whether to use a service that already has most of my personal information anyway (I use a lot of Google’s services – Search, Chrome, gDocs, Blogger, gMail, etc.) with the company motto of “do no evil” – Google or continue to use a service that wants to intrude more beyond the confines of their service – to access my personal data and has a bad reputation about how they get it and keep it – Facebook.

Ultimately, I chose Google – Let’s hope that I chose correctly.

Impressed

All that being said, since I took the plunge on October 10th, I have have been very impressed with Google+, its ability to do most of what I want from my social media hub and as the API opens up to other developers, I can see the potential for a lot of stuff that real people can use G+ for — not just power users or techies (which there seem to be a lot of on g+).

I saw enough that I liked about Google+ that I deleted my Facebook Account – permanently on October 19th.

Now if I could just get more of my family and friends on Google+.  I guess the attitude is “Build it and they will come” – we will see.

It will be interesting to see what social media looks like next year at this time.