Google+ is the upcoming social network according to industry stats. Google+ shares are directly correlated to high search rankings. This may mean that shares actually help stuff rank (which I doubt) or it can mean that stuff which ranks, tends to be shared (which seems likely). For that reason I think it’s time to revisit Google+ and see how it fits into my online strategy.
Over the years I’ve occasionally been active there and the result is that I have over 1000 people following me right now. Pretty amazing for a network I haven’t been active in. There are two ways to share posts with specific groups within Google+. The first is ‘circles’ the second ‘communities’. For a newby the two can be confusing. Here’s a quick summary I gave on the topic on facebook:
The circles are the way in which we can organize public shares – the google+ communities are like facebook groups: people can join them and they can be private or public or whatever. Circles are your private way of organizing that feed, so you can actually find the posts by your friends among the link-drops you’d rather not see. I have a ‘noisy’ circle for instance, for people I know, but whose posts I don’t need to see, because there are just too many of them.
So, if you want a share to only go to your friends who like baseball, you create a ‘baseball’ circle. If you want to FIND people to discuss baseball with and ask them a question or discuss the latest game, you join a baseball community. Communities on Google+ can be really fun. They’re a place where real discussion takes place. You can join communities around all your interests and find interesting people there. You can also decide whether or not you want the discussions in those groups to show up on your general Google+ feed. In most cases I’ve chosen not to have them there, because there are just too many things going to my Google+ feed anyhow.
However, it’s up to you. Google+ is a bit weird. On the one hand everybody who has a Google profile (Gmail users for instance) automatically has a Google+ account. So many users aren’t actually users. They just have an account because Google forced them to create one. The service is also a bit complicated.
However, it does solve some of the issues that are cropping up on facebook. One is privacy – Google+ circles make it very clear to whom your post is visible and you get to make that choice with everything you share. So some things can be public, others will only go to the people you have in circles (aka follow) and some will go to specific groups of people.
For general usage the main issue with Google+ is likely to be that it just has too many options. However, since the use of Google+ is apparently on the rise, perhaps people are learning to deal with that. Or they are finding simplified ways of using it that don’t use many of the customization options the system has.
In terms of privacy management Google+ is definitely a step up from Facebook: the default is to decide on a post-by-post basis what goes to which circle. Sure, the system remembers your last setting and uses that as a default, but changing that is not only easy, but a prominent interface option. To share something to a community you have to actually go to that community page.