Over the last few years I have become a convert when it comes to social media. If you had told me that facebook and twitter were good engineering tools then I would have laughed at you. However just over a year ago when I joined DesignSpark as a blogger for ebmpapst I started the slippy slope into online networking.
So Google+ is here in Beta phase at the time of writing this and I got an invite from a fellow engineer about a week ago. The community is still growing all under the control of Google but is slowly starting to show how it can be used. So early on I wanted to capture the first views of other engineers on what Google+ is and what they think of it. But first I want to explain a little of what the new site is and how (from my point of view) it looks to work.
I joked that had Twitter and facebook had got together and had a baby they would have called it Google+ and that in a snap shot is sort of what you have. The layout and style of the site is all very facebook. However there is none of this silly “Please will you be my friend” stuff and in place there is a more simple “click to follow” approach like on twitter. However on Google+ this is called “Circles”, I’m guessing this comes from having circles of friends?
Circles are however more powerful than they look. At first it looks like a stolen idea from Twitter where you can generate lists of people, then view only the tweets from this list. Personally something I’ve not found very good to use. However unlike twitter when you post a message in Google+ you can select which group of followers get to see it. This means you can target just your family, work mates or a group of like minded engineers. This is good because I can see some of my followers on Twitter get upset with me posting links about blogs I have written day after day. This way I can select who I aim at but at other times I can just post publicly at anyone who wants to look.
This seams to be echo’ed by other engineers who see Google+ as a way of generating sub groups that can collaborate though the circles or the new “hangout” feature. This feature allows for video and voice connection with others in a chosen circle allowing things like remote working.
Google+ also removes the amount you can type – something that many Twitter uses find hard to work with. This means you can post more detail and because of the facebook style committing (comment stay and hang from your post) means you can see all the replies.
So is Google+ going to replace facebook and twitter? Well I dont think so to be honest. I know some people have said that they would consider dropping facebook but I think it stills has a place. I was never convinced facebook worked / works for business and community’s like us engineers but I can see Google+ filling that void. facebook will be around for a long time to come and can’t see some 500 million users dropping it.
As for twitter despite Google+’s style and approach there is only one twitter and that in my view will not change. Its too powerful and flexible and still allows for short punchy posts that people love. I feel like others that Google+ will not be as to-the-point as twitter and allow as quick and dynamic responses and interfacing between users.
The last few items to mop up about Google+ is that at the moment there is no mobile app – lack of push notifications will hurt it. However a application has been submitted and will be out soon. For now we will have to contend with the mobile site which is a little slow and feature lite. The only other current issue is age. At the moment Google+ is limited to 18+ while in Beta and once fully release will go to 13+.
So that is my take on it with input from fellow engineers Robert.D, Paul.S, Michael.S and John.S – thanks for your comments guys! So now I want to hear from you, what are your views of this new and shinny social tool?