Recent usage data suggests Google+ has more users than Twitter, although it has some way to go before catching up with Facebook. This rather surprising statistic has made me think about how it might fit into my social networking portfolio, if at all. I’ve had a Google+ account since the service started, but I haven’t actively used it yet, as I’ll explain later.
Currently I use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a daily basis, and each has a distinct purpose. My Facebook friends are nearly all people I know: friends, work colleagues, research contacts, present and former students, science communication people, musicians, etc. My posts and uploaded photos relate to my day to day activities, and hopefully mean something to some of them some of the time! Twitter, on the other hand, is inevitably a bit more impersonal, since although the majority of my followers share one or more of my diverse interests or views, I don’t ‘know’ them all in the same way. So my tweets take the form of more general statements (@ messages and DMs excepted). Very occasionally there may be some contact overlap with Facebook, but not in general. Finally, I use LinkedIn mainly for professional information and interactions , such as information about new publications, details of research projects and conferences etc., although it is also useful for keeping up with contacts who don’t use Facebook or Twitter. I would say therefore that I’m pretty happy with these three services. They fulfill my networking needs very well and complement each other.
So, what about Google+? Well, I have started to have a go at using it. So far I have added 110 contacts to my ‘circles’, and 50 of them have added me back to theirs. They are nearly all existing contacts on Facebook,Twitter or LinkedIn, or a combination of these, and I haven’t yet got any ‘new’ contacts through Google+. Regarding the details of how it works, I haven’t really figured out the full meaning of these circles yet; for example, presumably putting someone in a circle is similar to following them on Twitter, since they don’t necessarily have to follow you back, i.e. add you to one of their circles? Then there seem to be strange features, like being able to put someone in a circle who doesn’t have a Google+ account yet. So I clearly have some way to go in demystifying it, and I’m not convinced, at least currently, that it is worth the investment in time. But I’ll keep my account updated, which is much easier now since my wonderful new Samsung Galaxy S3 phone has a Google+ app and provides notifications of any activity there.
I would be really interested to hear from other users of their experience of Google+. Has anyone found an aspect that is in some way superior to Facebook or Twitter? I still feel that it’s arrived a bit late to catch on, but the usage stats seem to imply otherwise!
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