First Impressions of Google+ – What it Does

Circles in My Life

Clever real-life Circles by Flickr user "topgold"

So what does Google+ actually do? Most of us know, by now, what you can do on Facebook: chat, play games, post and share updates and links and videos, place ads, use the marketplace, push our blog posts automatically to our profiles, post photos, join Groups, and — a real biggie for business — create business Pages that help draw in new customers and build loyalty.

Can Google+ do all that? Does it even want to?

One thing many users so far are happy about is that there are no games or other cute little applications like, “Which famous historical figure are you?” This leaves their news feeds much less cluttered. Some have called that sort of extra clutter “pollution.”

Google+ offers a few things that people really value, the primary one being Circles. Every friend you add can be placed in a Circle you create. So you might put one contact into “Business,” add another to “Friends,” and another to “Family.” And with each update or post you make, you can choose which Circle(s) it will publish to.

This is pretty powerful. (And yes, you can also make separate lists on Facebook, but the process is less straightforward and takes some investigating and tweaking.) You might say things to your Friends that you’d really rather your Family never saw. And both Friends and Family might be bored to tears by your Business posts. If you’re on a committee planning a convention, you can post pertinent updates to your “Convention” Circle.

Or you can get even more involved with other committee members (up to nine others aside from you) by using the Hangouts function to create a video conference with all of them. You can simultaneously have a Chat, and all of you can watch a YouTube video together.

There are other expected things, such as photo upload. And the feature called Sparks allows you to look for subjects that interest you, and when you designate what they are, Google feeds interesting links on those subjects into your feed as it finds them. And of course, you can add Google+ to your mobile device.

So there you have it, for now. It does seem, at the moment, like a pared-down Facebook, without several bunches of (needless?) bells and whistles like games, poking, flair, and other extras. But people wonder if it’s actually enough, yet. Some have compared Google+ to a kind of glorified Twitter feed. That comparison actually came to my mind too, though I think it’s quite a bit more than that.

The Circles and Hangouts may be the real selling point at the moment. And certain users already love this platform so much that they’ve essentially abandoned their Facebook Pages. But you may still be wondering if Google+ is all that. There do seem to be some essential things missing, don’t you think?

So the questions for the next installment are: 1) Can Google+ go further than this? and 2) What about Business??

(Go back to the first installment: First Impressions of Google+ — Look and Feel, and the third and final installment:  First Impressions of Google+ — What About Business?)