I was one of the early folks to join Google+ when it launched back in 2011. I connected with a few people I knew from Facebook, uploaded some photos, and shared a few posts with my “circles”. Not many of my friends were using this social media platform at the time, and after a while I got bored since there were hardly any new posts to view. Since I only wanted to interact with people I knew, I essentially stopped using Google+ in favour of Facebook, where I have had an account since 2007.
So when I was tasked with getting to know Google+ again as part of my activities for ADL310, the social media course I am currently taking, it took a bit of pondering but I remembered my password and logged myself in. Well hello, Google+, you have sure changed in 3 years!
One of the things I like about Google+ is that you can sort how you view things very easily. While Facebook only has one option for how the news feed looks, in Google+ I can have the same one-column continuous scroll as Facebook or I can change my “stream” to a staggered layout of boxes. The latter took a bit of time to get used too, but now I really like this layout. It reminds me a bit on Pinterest, and allows me to scan through a lot of posts in a non-linear (right-brained) fashion.
I also like that I can click on the tabs at the top of the Google+ site to easily view posts from friends, family, acquaintances, or people I follow. It’s simple to sort new connections into categories. This is an option that exists on Facebook but I didn’t realize it until I checked to see if it had something similar. On Facebook there is a tab on the left side of my news feed that allows me to click on posts from family or close friends, as well as pages I have “liked”. I will have to get to know this feature better on Facebook before I can really comment on it, but I do find the Google+ navigation and layout more appealing so far.
The concept of sorting your contacts into circles in interesting. Not having logged on to my Google+ account in years, I was surprised to see that a few strangers have added me to their circles, which means they will see any public posts that I make. If my intention were simply to connect and share with people I already know, this would not be a useful feature for me, but once I start promoting my new business on the site I will already have a few followers that will see my posts. Facebook recently added the “subscribers” feature, which does the same thing, but I do not currently have any subscribers.
What I found interesting over the last few days is that in exploring Google+ I found many features that I really like, and then realized that Facebook has something comparable in most cases, which I either wasn’t aware of or hadn’t used before. So dare I say that, from my perspective, Google+ seems to be doing the same things as Facebook but doing them better?
One of the drawbacks is that many of my current friends and contacts seem quite happy to use Facebook as their main social media site and most of them still do not have a Google+ account. I read somewhere recently (it may have been in the ADL310 textbook) that you should post different things on your social media profiles to make sure your followers aren’t bored by seeing the same posts. I can see that point, if you have savvy customers/followers that participate in several social media platforms.
In my case, I think it makes more sense to post the same material to all of my various social media sites, and let people follow me on the site that they prefer. Some will prefer Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Some will subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch videos directly on the site, while others will simply watch the videos embedded on my blog posts or Facebook page. I think it’s best to give people options.
If I wanted to increase my following on one of these platforms, I could always create an incentive for my followers from other sites to join me there. For example, I could ask my Facebook fans to follow my page on Google+ and offer them a free eBook or report if they do.
My experience to date with both Google+ and Facebook has been purely as someone looking to connect with and stay up to date with friends and family. As I begin to learn how to use these sites for social media marketing and promoting my business, I am sure it will be an interesting journey with plenty of new experiences. I am excited to be back using Google+ and hope that more people will connect with me there in the months ahead.