Have you tried Google Plus yet?
If you’re still wondering what it’s all about, the short answer is “Google’s version of Facebook.” But there’s a lot more to it than that.
For one thing, Plus is run slightly differently. One of Facebook’s problems is the concept of “Friending” people. Making a Friend connection is two-way. If someone wants to be your friend, you have to be their friend.
Secondly, Facebook doesn’t differentiate between different groups of friends. Your old school pals, your current friends, your work colleagues, your mum and dad – they’re all lumped in together.
Google Plus solves this with something called “Circles”. It fixes the first problem by making the relationship optionally reciprocal. Someone can choose to share with you (and you can ignore them if you wish), but you don’t have to share back.
It also fixes the one-big-list-of-friends problem. Plus lets you split people into groups, and easily share with just one group, with a few, or with everyone. It takes a while to get your head round, but it works.
The reaction to Plus has been very positive. People tend to like it for being Facebook without the annoyances. Twitter’s good for getting an audience, but Plus is good for having a discussion.
What’s Google trying to do here? Everyone has their own theories, but one excellent one comes from Plus user Vincent Wong, who put together this slide show.
In his view, Plus is the beginnings of a new cloud-based platform. It’s much more than just a social network – it’s the centre of a huge computing ecosystem, with Google in charge. That’s either quite scary or quite exciting, depending on your view of Google.
We get a lot of people asking us about social networks and how best to use them in business. At first glance, G+ looks like it could be a very valuable social tool, but it’s not yet clear how you can sign up as a business rather than an individual. Microsoft has managed it, though, so if we find out more about this, we’ll let you know.