AFTER A YEAR on Google Plus, I can see that it's not really a Facebook or Twitter killer. Instead, it's enterprise-strength threaded mobile communications.
In June 2011, I started out at http://gplus.to/topgold by circling a handful of Irish people who were curious about Google's slow start with social networking. That initial look led to working with a student from India and then to a cluster of third level students across the country from my home campus in County Tipperary. Today, I have a robust video conferencing system in my pocket, thanks to Google Hangouts. It's a system that works and one that has connected me to more people in a year on G+ than I've met in the past five years on Twitter.
I don't think G+ will tear people away from Facebook--the conversation pit on FB is so different and there's no way people are going to decamp from something that works for them. Both Facebook and Twitter are deeply integrated into core messaging applications of most mobile handsets, leaving G+ marooned in an app. And I know G+ demands more head space than other short form social networks. However, there are compelling reasons to wade into Googleplus for people who already leverage Gmail, Google Search, Picasa and YouTube. That's because Google Plus is part of an easily accessible social layer.
During the past year, the G+ application has improved month by month. It's now one of the most versatile apps I use on my iTouch. It hooks into Flipboard and shows the same kind of comfortable serendipity as a custom-built newspaper. And the mobile version of Google Hangouts is very slick.
I teach on the faculty of Limerick Institute of Technology, in a social media module we have offered since 2007. Part of that module asks students to create an effective social networking presence on Google Plus. We assess basic steps.
Step 1. Build a Basic Profile.
That means creating an AboutMe page with key terms relating to job prospects.
Step 2. Learn to Listen in Circles.
We actually build our own private social network with Google Circles before encouraging students to open their settings to public circles.
Step 3. Post, Comment, and Share Transmedia.
It's important to share original thoughts, to add comments to ideas expressed by others and to attribute credit to the origins of ideas.
Step 4. Develop a Work Flow.
This means cutting back on other social networking. In my experience, I can assess Google Plus but that does not actually cause a flock of students to stick with the network. There's too much fun on Facebook and Twitter. That fun doesn't seem to translate to Google Plus.
Step 5. Make it Mobile.
G+ uploads cameraphone images directly so it's easy to tap into the free online photo albums and share images. The G+ apps on iOS and Android are also very handy.
I'm glad Google has waded into online social networking. The result is a lot more stable than the first year of either Twitter or Facebook. Give it another two years and watch how our concept of shared experiences will change.
Screenshot from Michelle Marie.
Previously: "After One Month with Google Plus", Inside View from Ireland, July 30, 2011.
Bonus Link: Mike Elgan on G+
Bernie Goldbach curates links about Google Plus.