Just when we start to feel like we have got to grips with all that social media has to offer, with our twitter accounts, our Facebook profiles and pages, our LinkedIn profiles and groups, our personal and business blogs on WordPress and tumblr, our inspiration gathered on Pinterest etc. etc.; there’s a new kid on the block and we are playing catchup again.

This time it is an offering from Google, in the form of Google +.

 

What is Google +?

Google + encapsulates the concept of social sharing.  It has been likened to Facebook (as all new social networking platforms are), and using this analogy it is perhaps best compared to the news feed that appears on your Facebook homepage, allowing you to share online content with your friends and contacts.

But for me that is where the analogy ends, as social sharing is a small component of Facebook with the main focus being on the personal social networking side of Facebook; sharing photos, videos and interesting information / sites is just a few of the ways of interacting with friends used on the site.

I think that in the context of social sharing, it is perhaps more closely aligned to Twitter, which is partly (though not exclusively) based on content sharing.

However, what Google + does really well is allowing you to share tailored content with your various ‘circles’, rather than having separate accounts for various functions.  Circles are your various social groups such as friends, family, work colleagues etc.  Though Facebook and Twitter have both introduced litter functionalities, generally speaking if you are connected with someone on these sites, they see all of your content.  Google + allows you to share holiday snaps with just your friends, or interesting online articles with your work colleagues.

A couple of other great features include the ‘hangouts’ functionality, which is similar to Skype but allows arranged or impromptu video chats with up to 10 people, a little bit like Skype but more focused on ‘group’ conversations.

The sparks feature alerts you to new content surrounding topics you have expressed interest in, which you can then share with your circles.

 

Google + is still only in the field test and is currently available by invite from an existing member only.  I am still finding my way around it myself – but I do think that it is a platform that most people will use alongside their other social networks (if they can manage any more), rather than replace them, at least initially.

Google is also expected to launch account options for businesses as well, so it remains to be seen how this can really impact on businesses digital strategies in the future, but there is certainly some food for thought in there already.

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