I’d like to invite your Mum, Dad and Grandparents to Google+

Posted on: July 30, 2011

Some are saying traffic is declining to Google+ (Notice how awkward it is to put a full stop after a plus sign? I’m afraid such sentences will have to go unpunctuated).

A slight lull in early-adopter traffic doesn’t seem to me to be a big deal. As for my part I have felt the real personal usefulness of the platform will come only when the masses arrive. Sure it’s interesting seeing all the techies and social media megastars feel their way around and build up circles of the usual suspects. But it’s when all those barely overlapping groups of friends and interests I hold dear come over from Facebook and Twitter – and develop neat little profiles so I can add them to the correct circles – that’s when it will move beyond being professionally and technologically interesting – and become the crucial social platform that Facebook never quite was.

So I’ve had a go explaining Google+ to a few of my nearest – and also to a photographer and a taxi driver. Here is kinda how it went – and may as well form my personal invitation to the early majority – the next wave of converts, who I believe most of us need to make this thing work for us.

Dear dearest,

I’d like to invite you to join Google+ 

(No, it’s not about search, although it is from the people who make the search engine.) 

It is a new social network that allows you to share and communicate with friends and others online.

The great thing is you can see what people are posting – and choose what you post out – according to what you are both interested in and / or the relationship you have with them.

You can do this because Google+ has circles. Circles that you create, but no one else can see.

You can put people into as many different circles as you like.

And it’s really easy to drag them in and out of circles, for example if you move jobs.

Once you have created some circles – you can post items to people in them, and they can post items to you. 

Circles make it really easy to share what you’re doing, and follow what you’re into, without overlapping when you don’t want to.

So you won’t share pictures of your endless gardening project with your boss at work. Nor news about the latest raucous work party with your old friends from university or your aunties and uncles.

You can also easily follow and share news about your interests, without boring people you know won’t be interested in them.

But if you’ve just got married, and you want everyone to see the pics from your big day – you can share that with lots of your circles, or all of them.

If there’s something, on the other hand, you’d like to share with the whole world – you can make a post public. This is useful if you’re a writer, event organiser or entrepreneur and want to spread information as far as possible.

But if there are people you want to keep out of your life for whatever reason, it’s easy to put them into your blocked circle. They will never see any updates or photos restricted to your circles – even if they try and follow you.

So that’s it*. Tons of control over all the information and people in your life. Less chance of offending or boring the people that matter to you. More chance of connecting with people around common passions and interests – whether you know them in real life or not.

But ah… the Facebook question. Why do you need this when you have Facebook? One answer is – Google+ makes it easier to be you. To be all the things you care about, and maintain all the different social connections you have – simply. On Facebook it’s hard to share with and see content from selected people only – Google plus has solved this problem by making it much easier to have that control. 

Why not try it? Creating circles is really rather fun… then sharing to and reading from them – that’s when it really gets interesting.

If you need an invite let me know. Hope to see you there soon…

*There’s actually more to Google+ such as hangouts. In these you can use your webcam to video-chat with a group of up to ten people. It’s like free web conferencing software for everyone. People are already experimenting with hangouts in interesting ways, e.g. to hold virtual guitar lessons. But getting started with circles is the main thing.

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