August 17, 2011 Integra1

New Social Media Site: Google +

This article is going to serve as a basic introduction to some of the features of G+.  Stay tuned for upcoming articles for more news, tips, and about making the switch.

Getting into G+.  What it is, how it’s different, what it can mean for you.

Been online recently?  Do you know that GIGANTIC company called Google?  Well if you haven’t heard, they are throwing their hat into the social networking ring and are making quite a bit of noise.

Google’s latest Project (note: emphasis on project because it’s still very much being worked on) was created to further streamline the utilization of Google’s many tools such as Gmail, Calendar, Documents, and Photos all while incorporating a robust social networking.

It was late June when Google started launching the network through an invitation-only basis.  Only recently did invitations start rolling out more openly and some early reports suggest the site would break the 20 million user mark by the middle of July.

So you might be asking yourself why Google would try to enter into the social networking fray so late into the game.  I too have asked myself the very same question, but Google will be Google, and as long as they’re around it seems they want to have as much of a part of the Internet as they can get.  And good for them.  After all, competition is good for us consumers, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the features that G+ offers.

The first thing I noticed with Google+ is how clean it seems to be.  The main feed page has no ads, plenty of white space, and also sports a simple navigation bar for Home, Photos, Profile, and Circles.

Google+ manages contacts through the utilization of “Circles.”  Circles are fully customizable for you to manage however you want.  Whenever you share information over the website you are given complete freedom to dictate exactly who sees your content through circles. It’s perfect for those of you who are sometimes unsure of whether that latest status would be appropriate for your whole network to see.

If you already use Gmail, G+ automatically shows your contact list and makes adding people to circles as easy as dragging and dropping them in to an appropriate circle.

One of the most innovative features for Google + is their “Hang Out” application.  This feature allows users to join a live video chat with 9 other people in their circles utilizing webcam technology.  In the Hang Out, participants are able to live chat, watch videos, and view photos seamlessly with each other from the comfort of their own computer chairs.  One neat trend for hangouts right now is that celebrities use the hangout feature to start a group chat with their followers.  It offers a very personable and easily accessible experience for each user.

Google+ also rolled out of the gate with another new feature: Sparks.  Sparks are trends, hobbies, or interests that you can follow and keep up with the most current and popular stories from around the internet which features whatever you chose to follow.  For instance, if I follow the “Pittsburgh” Spark, I can get some of the latest news and headlines regarding Pitt.  Sparks has the potential to be a great information finder on subjects that YOU care about and hopefully the end results match some of my expectations for it.

The last feature is for all the Smart Phone users out there:  Huddle.  Have you ever tried to plan an event or a night out through text messages to a whole group?  If not, I can assure you that it is a disaster to try to coordinate like that.  Huddle plans to fix that through a group chat that brings everyone into a live feed right from your phone.  Managing a night out is vastly easier with only one contact point to go to as opposed texting everyone in a group separately.


“Is that it?”

Well, mostly.  For now anyways.  Google+ is still in an infancy stage, but the idea of having Google’s wealth of applications, programs, and tools at your fingertips all rolled into a neat little social networking website makes me very excited to see just how it performs in the future.

One additional note is that Google wants corporations and businesses to hold off on making accounts right now and that there would be something unique for them down the road.  So all you businesses out there, hold on just a little longer.  I’ll get into more of the business page details in an upcoming post.


“So what does this mean for me?”

It means choice.  It’s not mandatory to jump ship for every new social network that comes out, but it’s not every day that Google rolls something out quite as big as this.  So you’re looking for something new, watch a video on Youtube about it, read some more blog postings, and go ahead and ask around your current contact list for an invitation.  You might just find that G+ is right for you.

“Where do I sign up?”

Although you cannot openly register right now, feel free to send me an email at and request an invite to G+.  I’ll gladly help out anyone that I can.


Coming up in following posts…

What is the competition doing to keep users on their side of the fence?
What kind of new bells and whistles are on the horizon?
Where do I start?
What about business accounts?

Stay posted to the IMG blog in the following weeks to find out more information about Google+.

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