Google+: The best part you’ve ever been to ..if only there were more people partying.

Social Media Mania

When I first heard that we would have to subscribe ourselves to Google+ in order for participation in this course, I had to laugh. This was because two weeks before my boyfriend asked me over Skype to subscribe to Google+.

He sent me an invite and to be honest, I couldn’t even be bothered clicking the already pre-fabricated link. Why not? Well, we would I?

On an average day I spent about two to three hours on Facebook, trying to keep up with my 1200 ‘friends’ and still I hardly manage to reply to all the comments, wall posts, pokes, private messages, invites and chat messages.

I am also in the disadvantage that almost half of my friends is Dutch and the other half is from Australia as I just lived there for a year. This means that when my Dutch friends are going to bed and stop chatting and posting, the other half of my friends wake up and start catting and posting on Facebook. Being a ‘socioholic’ with a ‘fear of missing out’ this means checking and updating my Facebook can be seen as a 24/7 job (unfortunately my bank account doesn’t think so). I don’t even dare to check the other sites I ever belonged to anymore, like Hyves and Myspace, as I presume I’ll feel guilty ‘neglecting’ my friends messages for so long.

Why Google+?

Rises the question: what makes Google+ different from Facebook or all off the other websites?

According to wikipedia there are over a hundred (I couldn’t be bothered counting them all) Social Network Sites. Than why add another mr. Google? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites)

During the second Social Media class it became clear that in Google+ you have the option to divide the people you are connected with in different circles, for example friends, family, students etc. During the same lecture however, it also became clear that Facebook already worked on their disadvantage not by providing the same circles as Google uses but by creating lists by which people can divide their friends. (http://www.sci-tech-today.com/news/Facebook-Simplifies-Friend-Lists/story.xhtml?story_id=032003WTCP7K)

I did some research and found an interesting article by Bas van den Beld, marketing strategist and blogger at State of Search. According to him on of the other advantages is that Google can gather information about you and your preferences through the information you and your friends provide them with your Google+ account and then offer you better suiting Google products. “Where in the past Google always looked at links and connections between sites, Google is now looking at connections between people. More links does not necessarily mean that a site is better for a specific person, but if his or her friends say it is…

Google’s new way of looking at it is much more social: they rank or offer content based not just on links but also on recommendations from your social circle.” (Bas van den Beld) Since I am pretty sceptical about the idea of lots of (digital) information about me floating around on the internet, or being ‘my’ personal information beingused by anyone, I don’t know if I really see this as an advantage… (http://www.stateofsearch.com/what-is-google-really-all-about/)
Another new feature from Google+ is ‘Google hangouts’. With this feature you can have a video chat with several people from one circle at the same time. This could come in handy for example when you quickly need to discuss something with your friends from university about the paper that is due tomorrow. I think this last feature would be my main reason to (apart from this class) ever click the link to the Google+ world.

 

So far the why, it’s time to try

Ok, time to experience the hype myself. Signing up for Google+ was fairly easy using my Gmail account. But then…

On Facebook I have 1200 hundred friends. I got on Facebook, simply because all my friends were on Facebook. Joining Google+ felt like walking in to an empty disco: it was just me and two friends. In other words: the most over hyped party I had ever been to! Luckily when I asked some friends to join, they did and I got a little bit less lonely. After a week I even had enough friends to link them to different circles: Hooray! We have a party!

I created following circles:

  1. Family (Relatives like my mom, cousins, but also my boyfriends brother in law. These people don’t need to know everything I do. I don’t mind them knowing I had a blast at a festival, but I wouldn’t like them to know about me dancing on the table in a bar the night before)
  2. Friends (People that I in real life consider to be friends, with these people I can share a lot, but not everything because I might not trust all of them a 100 percent since I don’t know all of them that long or well)
  3. Roomies (The people I live with, with these people I share a lotbut not everything because I might not trust all of them a 100 percent since I don’t know all of them that long or well)
  4. Besties (The most important people in my life like my mom, boyfriend and best friends. With these people I can share everything)
  5. The Girls (Five of my best girlfriend. We have a close group of girlfriends that have been together for quite a while. With these people I can share almost everything)
  6. Uni (People I know through University, These people don’t need to know everything I do. I don’t mind them knowing I had a blast at a festival, but I wouldn’t like them to know about me dancing on the table in a bar the night before. Also whenever i have a )
  7. Work (People I know through work, These people don’t need to know everything I do. I don’t mind them knowing I had a blast at a festival, but I wouldn’t like them to know about me dancing on the table in a bar the night before)
  8. Ozzies (Friends/colleagues that live in Australia. Whenever I have a status update in Dutch or about something in the Netherlands, it won’t be too interesting for them)
  9. Dutchies (Friends/colleagues/family that live in The Netherlands. They will be able to read my status updates in English, but whenever I’m in Australia and want to ask my friends to join for drinks, I can leave my Dutch friends out.)

My Google+ connections are divided between 9 different circles, of which some connections belong to several different circles. For example my mom belongs to Family, Besties and Dutchies.

My main considerations creating the circles and link every connection to a certain circle were ‘who do I want to share which information with and who do I not want to share certain information with?’.

For example, if I just had the worst day at work and I would like to share this with my friends by making a status update like ‘Ugh, worst day at work, this company suuuuucks!’ I know my manager won’t like this so I’d better hide this from circle no. 7 ‘Work’. Some colleagues though, I do consider as my friends in real life, and I don’t mind them knowing bit more about my private life then most of my other colleagues, hence some of my connections are linked to work and friends.

I did not change my initial circles as they all seemed to work for me, but I did add three circles after a few days. First I added called Besties, because just like in real life, there are few thing I only want to share with those people that are the most important in my life like my best friend, my mom and my boyfriend. Hence I made a circle called Besties, the group I will share everything I post with. After I while I also divided all my friends in two groups: Ozzies and Dutchies, as my status updates about the new Starbucks in van Baerlestraat won’t interest my Australian friends and so fort.

I didn’t bother making an individual circle for my mother or boyfriend, because if there is something only they should know I might as well just call them or sent them a private message.

I have to admit that I do like the idea of different circles and by that way controlling who gets which information about you. I think it can be useful in many cases and after experiencing this feature in Google+ I might start using the links Facebook now provides.

Unfortunately I can’t choose yet which streams I want to follow, since the friends that joined Google+ to help me out with my assignment haven’t been very active yet. Even my boyfriend who insisted on me subscribing to Google+ doesn’t seem to be that active. So far I only read about the adventures of my brother in law, which in fact I have never even met in real life and to be honest don’t even have a clue of, of how he appeared in my Google+ ‘friends’. He seems pretty active, with about one post every four to five days or so. Interesting to see is though, that he gets comments on all his posts, which means his friends are active on Google+.

The verdict

My conclusion so far is that Google+ has it all to become an amazing party: The best location, the best Dj’s and the most amazing hostesses. But… what is a party without people attending? Did they make a mistake by making the party ‘exclusive’ with an invite only entrance? Was it a mistake to start the party while the tap wasn’t open yet? Or are people just tired of partying because there are already too many parties?

Especially now that Facebook also came up with the possibility to seperate friends from family, colleagues etc. I highly doubt the extra value of Google+. As I stated before keeping up with Facebook already a full time job and I don’t think I can be bothered keeping up with another social website too, the more because most of my friends don’t have Google+ (yet). This might change if my friends would shift from Facebook to Google+. So far though that doesn’t seem the case. I posted on facebook: Writing a blog for uni about Google+. Anyone who wants to give their opinion about (no matter what that is) or share their experiences with Google+?”

And within an hour I had more than fifteen comments, most of them not in the favor of Google+, a few examples:

Google+ leek een leuk initiatief maar na de hype zit er nog steeds niemand op. Alleen de voorhoede van hipsters en tech-nerds die geïnteresseerd waren in de voordelen van Google+ gingen er op, andere mensen hadden denk ik niet meteen zin in WEER een sociaal netwerk. Na een paar weken is nu de nieuwigheid er vanaf en is het ook niks meer aan.”

Google+ is handig, misschien wel beter dan Facebook. Maar dat weegt niet op tegen de hassle om daar weer ‘opnieuw’ te moeten beginnen.”

ik heb het amper omdat er niemand op zit”

Grootste probleem is denk ik ook dat Google bij aanvang het nieuwe netwerk ‘invite only’ had gemaakt. Wat natuurlijk stom is bij een sociaal netwerk. Een sociaal netwerk is net namelijk zo leuk als de vrienden erop zitten. Google+ zit verder wel goed in elkaar, maar het mist nog de critical mass om het succesvol te maken.”

There was one positive comment about Google+ versus fourteen negative comments. Of course my single Facebook post is not representative for a whole community let alone for everyone who uses Social Network Sites, but still I thought it be interesting to add this to my own opinion and experiences.

Furthermore, when I traveled for 15 months, no matter where I was, from Abu Dhabi to the Mekong river to Melbourne, when it clicked with another traveler the first thing to ask would be: “What’s your Facebook name”? No matter what country they were from. Facebook has become like an institution for people who want to keep in contact with other people world wide. It will be a hell of a task for Google+ to shift this.

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