"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
January 29, 2014

What Is Google+ Good For?

I have to admit I don’t really get Google+. I’ve watched the platform inch slowly forward since its release and while it continues to grow I find trying to use G+ a perplexing experience. Photographers were perhaps the first demographic to move onto G+ en masse. This makes sense, since G+ does a decent job […]

I have to admit I don’t really get Google+. I’ve watched the platform inch slowly forward since its release and while it continues to grow I find trying to use G+ a perplexing experience.

Photographers were perhaps the first demographic to move onto G+ en masse. This makes sense, since G+ does a decent job for those looking to share photos and elicit “likes.” In fact, much of the action on many photographer’s G+ accounts looks like the sort of thing we were used to seeing on Flickr or Instagram.

And, this “slightly better than something we are familiar with” dynamic seems to have been G+ main strength and part of the reason why many who are frustrated with Facebook have been switching over. Apparently G+ is like Facebook, only better (or less hobbled). Dammed with faint praise indeed.

Still, that leaves me wondering what G+ is good for. After all, I regularly use Twitter, Instagram (I know) and this blog.

One thing G+ is good for is getting your Google search author rank going. This is especially helpful if you write a blog or contribute to any publications with an online presence. However, this approach, forcing you to use G+ in order to gain a benefit in some other part of the Google universe doesn’t automatically make G+ useful in and of itself.

Moreover, once Goggle basically shoehorned the YouTube comments system onto G+ we saw a dramatic growth in the number of registered G+ users, but I’m not seeing many of these new users actually becoming regular contributors on G+.

In fact, I’m sensing many early adopters, including active bloggers, are kind of dormant when it comes to G+. They haven’t abandoned the platform totally, but neither are they really all that active or committed to it.

So, my question to you is, are you using G+, is it a good experience and what, if anything, do you feel it does better than other social media platforms?

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Foxlore 10 years ago

I was a fairly early adopter on G+ and at the time I did not have a Facebook account (I finally broke down and created a FB account last year at the insistence of family members).

For me G+ was an interesting experience that I hoped to use to enhance my old podcast, but it quickly turned out that the platform was not very audio friendly. It still isn’t, but I do enjoy the Hangouts system. I have participated in some interesting discussions via Hangouts and for me that aspect still holds some potential.

G+ Communities has kind of fallen flat from what I had expected. While a few communities have constant activity, some have simply become virtual ghost towns. Many of the active communities I belong to simply become message spam of a photo, gif, or news article, with very little active discussion. This is my biggest disappointment with G+, that commentary and discussion just does not seem to happen very much, (unless it is a post by a Google superstar) which then gets relegated to ‘Hot on Google’ status.

But I have found that the communities system is ideal for creating closed spaces that are tied to the classes I teach. I create a community for each course, students can join and post question, I can post relevant articles and make announcements, far more easily and directly that through the official platforms that the university uses. I can further tie this in to Google Drive (for class documents) and Google Calendar for scheduling, quite easily. I have even experimented using Hangouts in these closed course communities for consultations and tutorials.

I actually pulled away from social media in 2013. I’ve almost gone silent on Twitter, never bothered with Instagram, usually forget to use Get Glue / Foursquare. Most of my activity on G+ has declined. In part there is too much to need to keep track of, and what I actually wanted from these platforms (conversation on subjects) doesn’t seem to happen. Rather they all become a kind of pavlovian system of acknowledgment (like,+, favorite, recommend, etc.)

I’m still hoping for that system that enables (and elicits) café/coffee table style conversation over distance. If not now, then maybe it will emerge in the next decade. ?

Fernando Gros 10 years ago

Paul – thanks for your considered thoughts. I’ve noticed you being less active on Social Media in 2013.

Like you, I had hoped G+ would have a community aspect to it. Something in between the rapid fire banter of Twitter and slower pace of blogs. But, I haven’t found it either. Some have. I haven’t

Toni 10 years ago

G+ completely failed to create an environment which inspired communities to form. The interface was unintuitive and idiosyncratic, and while that kept away the typical facebook/instagram types, it wasn’t a positive experience for those who could understand how to use it either.

For communities to form people need a somewhat common purpose: the Diaspora project, Libertree etc also use a slightly difficult interface (much of G+ interface design apparently being lifted from Diaspora) but in the case of those networks community was formed because like-minded libertarian and anarchistic individuals wanted a place to myther about the evil of big corporations and government oppression. OTOH G+ excludes the mass-market, yet has no reason for other communities to form within its walls. In addition for those with photographic businesses, Google is well know for shutting down services when the fancy takes it, and who would really want to invest time in a service that could disappear at random?

I seem to know quite a number of Christians that post there, and I wonder if it might become a faith-network site? Have to wait & see on that.

I do like the different approach that has google+ compared to other networks and that the content that people share is way more interesting compared to Facebook for example. Sometimes it may feel a bit empty and not interest at all, but is worth to check at least few times a day if we have time to do so.

The point that Paul comments about the communities, could have more potential. I am member of some but I admit that don´t check it at all or when I remember or able to catch a post in my timeline.

At least, seems a product that is here to stay and the users keep increasing (relatively, signups or active users we all know, it differs).

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