Under the new Google Management – with Larry Page on the helm – things seem to change. Google+ is out and unlike the many products before like Wave, Buzz and others, G+ looks pretty promising.
Is it a "Facebook Killer" like several early promoters suggested? I absolutely don't think so. Is it a "Twitter Killer"? That one is much more likely. Let me share some early experience:
What is different to the other "Big Three" (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)?
While the basic concept of connecting with interesting people and share information is the same, the way you connect and share is different and has some very interesting twist:
1) Connecting with people
Similar to Twitter you simply add people. Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn where each connection needs to be confirmed.
But unlike Twitter where you just "follow" whoever you want to follow, you have the option to put people into circles which you define yourself. That is a significant change as we will see below when it comes to sharing.
Some people reported that this is a tedious process compared to Twitter. Right but Twitter is useless if you follow more than 1,000 people. Not so on G+ as you are able to both share AND read information based on selected circles.
The connection process allows you to be smart and really select right from the beginning. If you are more of type "superficial" and just don't care, then you can put all people in one bucket – meaning one circle. You may think, I can sort it out later. Well – I trust you never will.
2) Sharing Information
Similar to Facebook you share information with others in a rich media form where you ad links which immediately convert the content to images and meta tags and the same with photos and videos.
Unlike Twitter where you have only 140 characters, G+ doesn't have that limitation. Unlike LinkedIn where you only have text, G+ is a nice and media rich environment.
The biggest difference compared to all three (FB, LI, T) is in the way you address what you share. By default it is public and you share it with everybody. But you have the ability to share it only with a specific circle a=or selected circles. While it is not too likely in our ever more transparent world, it comes very handy when you have content to share that may be only boring to others and you don't want to clutter your own stream – very important!
3) Information Consumption
Here comes the biggest difference to all three (FB, LI, T)
Unlike LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook where you see it all or nothing, you can select your information stream based on the circles you have. What required a tool like TweetDeck to sort out all the many tweet, is done by circles in a super easy way.
You read the information from people in your circles. And instead of reading all the information all the time you can be very selective and change with a blink of an eye.
If I want to check what my Social Media Academy people are saying and communicating I click on that circle and the filter shows instantly only information people from that circle are sharing. If I want to see what my executive friends have to say, I click on my Exec Cadre and see only their communication. and back to all with a single click.
If you are a casual networker this feature may not mean a lot to you now – but if you are heavily involved with many people, circles is a truly innovative way to deal with social media content.
For now – G+ people are what I call the social media avant garde, people who are in the field since a long time. Right now it is really cool to see all those people on one spot and have conversations like four years ago on Twitter. It is hard to predict when the millions from Twitter come over and blast their "message" into the G+ ether. But I guess with circles as a powerful filter, the "blasters" can blast into their own emptiness all day long without disturbing people and if I'm interested what the last spam is I look at a circle where the mega promoters are.
Right now there is no "ReTweet" in Google+ but I'm sure that will come any soon as it would be nice to share great information with my respective network without cut and paste.
At least for now there is no "Auto-Circle" where you just add thousands in the hope they follow you back. So all you can do is to communicate some attractive content, comment intelligently or funny on other posts and be a good social citizen.
We will all want the concept of "Circles" in any social network. And social media companies will make that change. Xeesm for instance just released "Cadre" where you put all your contacts into a cadre to make it easier to reach out to large network.
Rich media based sharing will be the standard and laggard LinkedIn will need to follow. If Twitter follows is a big question mark because they would give away the only thing that is unique to them: 140 character messages.
(check my G+ profile on my Xeesm)