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The Buzz You Need to Know About Google + **

By Hector Cisneros

There is a lot of hype on the Internet, and every product launch brings its advocates and critics. The launch of Google+ is no exception, (read as "Google Plus").  I am a huge advocate of social media and online networking. When a giant internet player like Google says, they are launching a social media platform, my ears perk up, and I pay attention.  This article provides a quick synopsis of what Google+ brings to the table.  It will show what is different about Google+ verses the current leader Face Book.  It will also give you an overview of some of the cool features that only Google+ provides.

The Battle of Social Media Giants

First, Google+ is new, and new services from a giant internet player like Google are always news and always require some level of attention.  Google is a powerful rival of Face Book, and this new entry will be a direct competitor to Face Book and the other social network contenders.  Face Book is currently more than three times the size of it’s next competitor.  In my opinion, competition is healthy for any industry.  Google+ has the real potential to compete in the social network arena.  Google is one of the world’s largest corporations, and they change the rules of any sand box they chose to play in.
Facebook Notifications Management (Mark as Spam!)Image by @superamit via Flickr 
Don’t get me wrong, I like using Facebook, LinkedIn and  Twitter.  I joined these social media networks early on when they were at the beginning stages of widespread distribution.  I wanted to see if they could rival the face-to-face networking I had been engaged in for many years.

On the other hand, it has been my experience that when companies mature and reach high profitability, they stumble.  They enter a period of naive thinking that lends itself to a culture of arrogance, and the belief that they can do no wrong.  Facebook has been  implementing many changes to their network over the last six months without consulting their subscribers. These changes have angered a lot of it members.

Social networkImage via WikipediaHaving said this, Facebook is still on top.  Any current disillusionment that has surfaced  hasn’t slowed the rush of people who continue to join Face Book in record numbers. In fact, I recently read that they had reached the 750 million-subscriber mark this year.  That’s up about 250 million subscribers in about a year and a half (depending on whose numbers you believe).  I am only bringing this up because member disillusionment may be the kink in Facebook's armor.  This discontent may give Google+ the chance to make inroads into social networks market place.  Something that Google has not been able to do in the past.

Why Google+?

Whether Facebook is showing weakness or not, here are several reasons why Google+ will make inroads this time around, (even if it’s only taking market share from other networks).  First, they have made Google+ very easy to join and use.  If you are a Gmail subscriber, it’s a matter of a few clicks and filling in your basic profile info.  You are not required to fill out your complete profile. This process only takes a few minutes to complete, (especially if you are cutting and pasting from Facebook).

Gmail Subscribers Welcome

If you’re a Gmail subscriber, some of your contacts will automatically be imported for you, and you don’t have to have any technical knowledge of CVS files or data exporting.  Some of names in your contact list will automatically show up and begin the process of creating your circles of influence.  You will simply drag and drop people from your list into predefined circles or create circles of your own.

Circles, Circles Everywhere

Speaking of circles, one of the coolest features of Google+ is their circles grouping feature.  It seems much more intuitive and easier to use than the one provided currently by Face Books.  This interface allows you to organize your contacts into groups that appear as circles, literally.  There are a few predetermine groups, but you can customize them all you want and people can belong to as many different circles as you desire.

Google+Image by Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net via FlickrCircles also allow you to filter your news feed  (called the stream in Google+) so that your circle selection becomes your stream feed control. In other words, the circle you select can determine whose post your watching. It can limit your view of which posts  are streamed into view.  Changing your view is easy and intuitive. Some of the clean simplicity that Google+ demonstrates is by design.  Some of its clean and uncluttered look is because Google+ is new, and it is unencumbered with all the trappings that come with a mature social media site.  Either way, I appreciate the clean, easy to use, and fun interface Google+ has to offer.

Do you like to Hangout?

I'm doing the family Google+ Hangout from work...Image by colmmcsky via FlickrSpeaking of other fun features, Google+ has two worth mentioning.  The first is Hangouts.  Google+ provides a video Chat room for groups of people.  You can video chat, share You Tube videos, invite others and have a real online video conversation with several people. This is a face to face conversation. You need a video camera and microphone attached to your computer to use this service effectively. I believe this will be a standard feature on most if not all computers. Most laptops and tables computers come with this as a standard item so that the user can engage in video chat. This is a cool feature which I am sure it will get lots of use.  I believe the maximum number of people that a Hangout session will hold is probably limited by your screen size and the speed of your internet connection.  I believe between six to nine people will probably work well.  After that, it will probably seem crowded.  I suggest you check this feature out and start thinking of all the cool ways you could use this service.

Did You Say You Wanted Acclaimed Games?

Another feature I genuinely like is the games Google+ includes.  Unlike the games used with Facebook, Google+ has a game's menu built in.  The variety of games they offer is extensive.  It includes 18 games such as Anger Bird,  Bejeweled Blitz, CityVille, Diamond Dash, Dragons of Atlantic, Crime City, Sudoku Puzzles, City of Wonder and Zynga Poker just to name a few.  All of these games are designed to be shared socially.  Even Angry Birds, let you share your score so you can play against your friends.

So there you have it, a quick overview of the buzz surrounding Google+ and how it compares to Facebook.  Google+ is still extremely new, and it currently does not offer the number of subscribers, features and maturity that Face Book or LinkedIn offers. Having said that, Google+ is extremely user friendly, easy to navigate and provides several new, innovative features such as Circles, Hangouts and the integrated games provide a high cool factor for most users.  Add to this all the other Google applications and properties you have access to, (Google is prodigious), and you have the beginnings of a social media contender.  It may not be a Facebook or LinkedIn killer yet, but its innovative approach and connections to Google’s vast library of applications and internet properties will help it to receive rapid adoption and meteoric growth. If you would like to see a video about this subject click here.

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That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

Hector Cisneros is the director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, a writer, an entrepreneur for more than 30 years, a veteran of BNI for 19 years and was a BNI director for over five years. He is still an active BNI member and follows its philosophy of "Givers Gain." He is the owner of several businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He actively coaches business owners in the fine art of online advertising, business networking and word-of-mouth marketing. He is president of Website Know How, Inc., a holding company for his business ventures that include: online advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, real estate holdings, non-profit training/support, book publishing, health and wellness product sales and adventure sports. Hector's new book, "60 Seconds to Success," teaches business owners how to get the most from word of mouth marketing by using great 60-second introductions. To learn more about Hector Cisneros, social media, online marketing or word-of-mouth marketing, visit the Networker's Apprentice workshop or his book's website:  

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