Google has created some hype with their new social network called Google +, which is still in the beta phase with an invite-only status for new users. With close to 10 million users already, it is predicted that it could reach 20 million by the end of the weekend (no longer time-relevant. The information I’ve seen says that it’s already at 25 million users). Nevertheless, this social network has become possibly the fastest-growing product in the history of the Web, which is huge for the search-engine giant since their previous social media efforts – Buzz and Wave – didn’t go so well.
Getting started with Google + is just like getting started with Facebook. First, you create a profile with your personal information. The profile allows you to add a tagline, employment information, education, contact info and a photo scrapbook. If you want to upload photos to your new profile, Google lets you link to your Picasa Web Album, which is Google’s version of Flickr.
Once you’ve created your profile, the next step is adding connections. You can use your Gmail account information to find people or search your Google Buzz account, or find people randomly as well. You can also see who has already added you into their connections by using the tab “People Who’ve Added You.” The most important thing to pay attention to when adding people on Google + is creating Circles, which allows you to group people into categories of friends, family, acquaintances and following. The Circles feature also allow you to control which Circles get to see what on your profile or in your updates. For instance, if you posted something that you don’t want your family members to see and is meant solely for your friends, you have the option to leave family members out and create privacy for yourself. This is one thing Facebook doesn’t allow you to do, which means if you update your status, then all of your connections have the ability to see it.
One of the features that has been causing some hype is what Google calls the “Hangout.” This feature allows you to video chat with friends using a webcam. You might question what the big deal is since you can video chat on an iPhone, iPad, or Skype – but with Google +, users are able to video chat with multiple friends at the same time, just as if people really were “hanging out.” This can be a a cool feature for those busy people out there who aren’t able to see their friends as much as they like. Now, all you have to do is go on your Google + account and click the “Hangout” button and chat with all of your close friends.
Another feature that Google + offers is the” +1,” which allows you to “+1” something that you like – just as you would press a “Like” button on Facebook. You can see how many people “+1” the post and view how popular or interesting the post may be. People are even able to see different websites that you have visited by using “+1.” This helps to show which websites people enjoy the most and in-turn suggest sites to others who share the same interests. The “+1” feature has its own tab on the top of your Google + account for users to click and see what other people like.
On Google +, sending updates also allows you to send photos, videos, links or locations based on updates. You can also choose who can view the post by using the “Circles” feature.
This was an insight of how to get started with Google +. If you don’t already have one, then just be patient. Everybody will be able to join soon enough. But, if you already have one, then I ask: What do you think about it? Do you think you will use this more or less than other social networking platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter?