Created on Thursday, 11 August 2011 00:00
Written by Amos Seah
A couple of week ago I came across a couple of Facebook statuses on my news feed mentioning the new Google+.
I was indifferent about it then. Why bother signing up for another social network account when I already am satisfied with what I have and add on more noise to this already clamorous cyber world of social networks?
Some other social networking sites that I have signed up for include Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Quora, the last of which is a site dedicated to questions and answers. If you noticed, all these sites have a unique function to them, despite being bundled into the ‘social network’ category.
The Question would then be: “How would Google+ stand out among all the other sites and particularly from its strongest competitor, Facebook, when it serves similar functions?”
Facebook holds the greatest market share among rival social networking sites such as Myspace (sacked 30% of its staff in 2009) and Friendster, the first social network which to admit defeat and instead go for a new approach as an entertainment-oriented site.
For Google to launch Google+ in view of such happenings on the scene, I wonder what it has up its sleeve. Were they counting on being as one of the most popular site on the World Wide Web to translate to being an adequate competitor in the social media circle?
Soon, I received an invitation to Google+ in my mailbox. It was in this mind that I impulsively let myself into the realm of this new social network.
The first thing I noticed about the site was its simple design with not much of a clutter as compared to Facebook. It is also slightly faster when switching page to page. For example, from ‘Profile’ to ‘Home’ pages. Perhaps this is because the site is still new and we haven’t added ‘clutter’ to it. There were also several other aspects to the site that set it apart from its contenders.
Google+ introduces ‘Circles’, a new term that simply refers to your friend list. The main difference here is that it recognizes the fact that not everyone who you add to your profile needs to be a friend, but rather, people boxed into different groups or categories. ‘Circles’ allow you to group people you know into different ‘Circles’ such as the default ‘Friends’, ‘Family’, ‘Acquaintances’ and ‘Following’. Now, this solves the problem you face when you don’t want your mom to stumble across the photos of your crazy party last Friday. Instead of limiting your profile to certain people in your network, you can go through an extra step to select or unselect which ‘circle’ you want to post or share anything in Google+. The best part is that you can do it without the other ‘Circles’ knowing about it!
Most social networking sites come with a recommendation button embedded on content across the web. Google’s very own +1 button functions like Facebook’s ‘like’ button, thus +1’ing is Google’s equivalent of ‘liking’ a particular video or story. On the other hand, the +1 also serves as a ‘recommendation’ feature linked to your personal profile, something that isn’t simply a ‘like’. Websites that you have +1’d will be visible from your Google+ profile. At the same time, your profile will be visible to people connected to you through Google (be it Google+ or Gmail) who have stumbled upon a website that you have +1’d in their Google search results.
Other attractive features include ‘Hangouts’, a videoconferencing tool that allows up to 10 people in your network to chat at the same time. ‘Sparks’ is basically a search engine integrated into your profile allowing you to easily share search results and pin your favorite search topics. I sure there are many other functions and features that I’ve yet to discover but I have already come up with a verdict.
From my experience with the site, I conclude that Google+ really is something different with a huge advantage over its other social networking rivals. Not simply because it has functions that are way cooler than the other sites, but because it belongs to all things Google – the world’s largest search engine and information portal. If you are logged in to Google+, you would notice that it is one of the pages on Google’s top panel among pages such as ‘Mail’(Gmail), ‘Calendar’, ‘Docs’ and ‘Photos’. Google+ was made to function together with all thing Google, just as the +1 button and ‘Sparks’ are added perks to Google’s existing search engine.
Now that Google+ is still in its beta testing phase, lets just look forward to how people will respond to it when it is officially launched. Till then, it is just a ‘+1’ to the list of social networking sites that I have signed up for.