Google Plus, Facebook Minus

Google+

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Every time a new social network comes along, the tech enthusiasts begin to ask: could this be the one that unseats Facebook as the king of all social networking? In the past, there’s been very little reason to think that would be the case. With Google Plus, however, there are enticing new features that could easily put Facebook in its place — second place.

Hangouts

Facebook offers its in-browser chat option as text only, the traditional way that users have communicated with each other on the internet. But Google Plus steps it up, offering group voice chat for as many as ten users at the same time. Users can create circles (privacy groups, detailed later), and then invite those groups to a “Hangout” group chat. Only those users in the invited “circle” can accept the invite and join the fun. But this is miles and miles ahead of Facebook’s current communication options, and could be a significant draw for the younger crowd that Facebook currently dominates.

Circles

Google Plus is the exact opposite of Facebook in terms of privacy. Users can create circles of friends, and then determine which information each circle has access to. There is no limit to the number of circles a user can create, and no restrictions on what a user can, well, restrict. This flies in the face of the current Facebook privacy policy, which is largely that users have no privacy if they wish to use the service. For those who have been outraged by Facebook’s privacy antics over the past several years, this is the sole selling point of Google Plus and may draw scores of users from the world’s top social networking site.

Sparks

Google has put its in-house news service to good work in the form of Sparks, which allows Google Plus users to share with their circles stories and videos that they think they’ll enjoy. What’s better, the list of news stories, videos, and other media, is updated as new stories become available that Google things the circle will like. It essentially is a continuous stream of relevant, entertaining information from around the internet that gives users an excuse to keep their browser pointed at Google and no one else. Because Facebook only pulls content from its own users, this gives Google an international edge in multimedia that Facebook simply can’t hope to possess.

Plus One

Google has integrated its “Plus One” feature, meaning that users can place a vote of confidence in news stories, videos, and each others’ posts and comments. And everything they “plus one” is aggregated on their profile and shared with the appropriate circles, turning the site into a hybrid of Facebook, Google News, and Digg. It allows users to promote each other in ways Facebook simply does not have.

Overall, Google Plus seems to be packaged as the next logical evolution of social networking. Its features point to a media-centric, self-contained form of communication that is heavy on privacy, forward-thinking in technology, and ahead of Facebook by several miles — digitally speaking.

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  • Brad

    I’m really liking some of the features and eager to try it out.  Haven’t gotten my invite yet.  The nerve of Google.  Anyway, definitely looks interesting.  Funny thing is that Mark Zuckerberg has the most followers on the service so far at 44,000+ with Larry Page as #2 and Zuckerberg hasn’t posted one thing on there other than a photo of himself.  http://socialstatistics.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewcnelson Andrew Nelson

    Awaiting an invite as well.  

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    Invites for both of you on the way.

    Just got started myself yesterday. I’m intrigued – not convinced yet – just intrigued.

  • Brad

    Craig, thanks.  Got the invite and got going very quickly.  I agree the author about “miles ahead of Facebook”.  Facebook is great but what social networking has become wasn’t fully apprarent as it’s been built.  Google has done an excellent job expanding and tweaking the pitfalls within Facebook’s current formats and approaches.  It’s a much more organized and common sense approach to social networking online.  The managing of privacy is much more straight-forward as well.  

    I see great possibilities for our parishes and messaging between multiple ministries and groups with circles and hangouts.  It would probably be a more efficient approach than the Facebook page or group in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/Jose_Galvan Jose Galvan

    I was hoping for a way to find more Catholics online. I created a Catholic circle just for this point!

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

      I’ve found 50 or so Catholics. Of that, maybe 10-15 are ‘active’ on it so far. In another month, there’ll be a lot more I’m sure.

  • http://www.vmrcommunications.com Hugh Macken

    Nice post! I guess my biggest question about G+ is how it will be used by organizations. For example, will organizations and brands be able to create a profile on Google Plus? Or just individuals? So far it looks to me like profiles and circles for those profiles are reserved for individuals. Hmmm…. maybe “squares” or “triangles” for groupings of organizational profiles? :)

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

      Sounds like Google is fast-tracking a plan to allow businesses and organizations to create Google+ accounts.

      • http://www.vmrcommunications.com Hugh Macken

        That is good to know. In a non-marketing / external communications sense, I’m thinking “hangouts” could be useful for business collaboration / internal communication (sort of like a cross between Salesforce Chatter and imeet.com on steroids) although the term “hangout” does not exactly bring to mind serious business discussions. It will be really interesting – for me at least – to see how the business vs. personal use case questions play out. Will G+ be used by business and organizations for internal communications? Or for purposes of external communications / marcom? Or perhaps…both?

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