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What distinguishes Google+ from its rivals?

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So, Google+ has been around for about a month now and the big question is whether it’s another experiment in social media (as Facebook would have us believe) or a strong threat to Facebook (and Twitter). Here are some of the things I think really distinguish it from it’s rivals:

Openness: I like the way people don’t have to be a friend to connect with them or see their public newsfeed (stream) as is the case with Facebook. You don’t have to request permission to be a person’s ‘friend’ before you can connect with them, something I’ve always found a bit cringey in Facebook. You can just follow them and they may, or may not, follow you back (as in Twitter). New people to connect with aren’t called ‘friends’ either, you can just find ‘people’ to connect with – a difference I like.

Control over content posting: With Google+Circles news sharing is more flexible and can be used like Twitter (to broadcast or share info with lots of people) or used to selectively share info with a group (Circle) or an individual. People won’t know which Circle you’ve put them in too which is the beauty of it.

News alerts: Sparks is a really useful tool. You can follow the latest news (via Google naturally) on areas of interest to you (news, sports, hobbies, professional) and means you can get rid of cluttering up your e-mail account with Google Alerts on your favourite news items.

Group texting and live video chat: Huddle is a really useful tool for group texting friends and Hangouts is great for chatting live with multiple friends or business colleagues, BUT, it obviously relies on most of your mates or work colleagues being on Google+ (and I think they still need a lot more tempting in).

Attach photos to private messages: You can add a photo from your hard drive to your direct/private messages (hurrah), something which doesn’t seem possible on Facebook (correct me if I’m wrong?).

And for your amusement: I like the way if you delete a circle it rolls solemnly away and if you drag a friend into a circle they roll into place like a pinwheel – try it!

All this would be great, BUT, is it good enough to drag everyone away from Facebook? Personally I prefer the openness, flexibility and added extras (such as Sparks) on Google+, but 90% of my contacts are still on, or mainly active on Facebook and of other Google+ users suggested to me by Google+, 8 out of 10 have filled in their profile but have nothing visible in their news stream! The downside to this lack of activity amongst many users is that you can feel like you’ve arrived too early for the party. The good thing about this emptiness is that it forces you to get out of the Facebook mindset of just searching for people you know, to being more adventurous and, twitter-style, seeking out strangers to see where the party’s at!

Businesses are not yet allowed to create a profile on Google+ BUT, they will be able to in a few weeks and maybe things will hot up then. Watch this space.

Connect with me on Google+ and see below for tutorials on Circles, Hang-outs and Sparks

Google+ Circles?:

Google+ Hangouts:

 

Google + Sparks:

Find out more: Mashable’s Google+ Guide

By Marie Leverett, Social Media Manager (March Hare Media)

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