Will Google+ (plus) bitch slap Facebook and Twitter? Will the king of search become the king of social too?
There are a number of ways to look at the brewing feud between Google+ and two of the most popular social media sites. One way is to look at the numbers of registered users, another way is look at the quality of user experience, and yet another is the revenue that the sites generate — not just for itself, but for its users.
Right now, in terms of number and user experience, Google+ has a sparse landscape. There are no page updates, no game or application notifications, no mindless tagging, no incessant and irrelevant wall posts, and no scrolling streams of updates.
Coming from Facebook or Twitter, it can feel like opening a window and finding yourself confronted with an Alaskan or Siberian landscape after all the snow in the world has fallen.
The usual question that comes to mind is, “So, what’s next?” and answering it is actually when the “fun” starts.
It actually begins when you start looking for other people that you know who are already on Google+ and start adding them in “Circles”.
Google+ Circles, as you might have already read, is a way to limit your engagement with the entire online world of Social Media. By default, you are given three Circles (Friends, Family, and Acquaintances) to put people in but you can create other Circles and label them as you please.
Putting people in a circle is like following people on Twitter and completely unlike sending a “friend request” on Facebook. When you put someone in one of your circles, that person is sent a notification on the Google+ bar as well as an e-mail notifying them that they’ve been added. Likewise, if you are added by someone in one of their circles, you get notified through Google+ bar and an e-mail.
Now, the people who you put in one of your Circles don’t actually see each other’s streams (or news feed) or posts, unless they’ve mutually “Circled” each other.
What “Circles” actually allows you to do is to direct updates or posts to a specific set of people. This eliminates the rather messy affair of tagging or mentioning people in a post or update and makes it easier to private message a large group of people. However, this isn’t at all the spam-like behavior of tagging or mentioning people, it just makes your post available or visible for viewing by a particular circle.
Having people in “Circles” actually solves the problem of needing to maintain separate Twitter accounts for different topics and might actually help match particular types of updates with the right circles. This can prove to be valuable if you’re trying to come up with productive engagement rather than massive engagement.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.