I got my invite into Google+ today and I had to try it out to see what the buzz is about. I started by adding one of my favorite YouTubers, Philip DeFranco, to my Following Circle and invited a couple of my real-life friends to try it out with me. Our first impression? It needs a lot more people! It feels very much like an empty wasteland right now.
The concept seems extremely like Facebook, with a very similar feel to the layout, but there are differences. Right off the bat you can categorize people based on four default “circles”:
- Friends: people you know really well and like
- Family: self-explanatory
- Acquaintances: folks you may or may not like, but just don’t know that well
- Following: folks that you like, but who do not know you from Adam (like Philip DeFranco).
You do also get the ability of creating custom “circles” but for now these four seem to be adequate to my needs.
You can also add “sparks” (basically interests) and set up a profile similar to Facebook. You can share status updates, photos, videos, links or geolocations.
One unique feature is the addition of “hangouts” – basically a video conference you can have with any of your friend, family, etc. Also Google is touting more privacy features. Different elements come with different default privacy out of the box (shared with everyone, extended circles, just a specific circle, etc.). The more private (like phone numbers), the higher the default privacy setting. I’m sure some folks who really dislike Facebook’s privacy settings and policies will like this.
My first impressions are positive, but the one thing that a web site requires is content, and what social media sites require to make content are users. Will people switch to Google+ or maintain profiles on both Google+ and Facebook? Only time will tell.