Some say Google+ is a Facebook killer and others say, "what's Google plus?" After a few weeks, 20,000,000 people have signed up to be a part of Google's next social networking experiment. I say experiment because Google Wave, a service that's now a part of Google+, was supposed to be the next big social network. But there were seeds of success harvested from Google Wave that just sprouted into their next social networking site experiment. Even though Google Wave was a misfire, it brought greater attention to other services like Gmail. Twitter users will like Google+'s expanded character support, link embed and integrated photo tagging. People using Google's Android mobile operating system and Twitter will enjoy sharing content quicker than they thought possible.
Gmail continues to be the Google service that people flock to because of its ever=expanding cloud storage and it simply works. Once such improvement is how it learns who you read emails from and prioritizes those messages closer to the top of your inbox. Google+ has something similar. Each time a user comments on a popular post, it moves it to the top of the user's stream.
To be successful on Google+ might mean posting relevant and engaging content on your stream. Also, create circles of people that will engage more so than they might on Twitter or Facebook. Circles are similar to Twitter lists, but work in multiple ways. Your Google+ home stream shows posts from users in circles and you are able to post content directed at them too. Though, if you want the biggest bang for your time, make general posts public.
Most of the early adopters to Google+ are big on Facebook, like Mari Smith and on Twitter, like Kim Sherrell @Kim. Both are utilizing Google+ somewhat like they have been on Facebook and Twitter, respectively. This is a good thing, as it shows familiarity to people when they migrate over and look at Mari's or Kim's streams. Google+ is seen by many as a platform to move the most engaged followers to and some want to start anew to reduce their noise quotient. I have said before that noise on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are conversations between people that may need to be engaged at a later time.
Facebook and Twitter have their limitations and the ones being pointed out on Google+ are quickly being eliminated or added to a giant to-do list for Google engineers to fix soon. I recently sent in feedback about the circles and sparks functions. Circles are lists of people and sparks are like alerts to certain keywords. My suggestion was people should be able to take a circle and drop it onto a spark. This would give users a constantly updating stream of posts from people or brands on Google+ talking about predefined keywords. Being able to do this in real time would greatly change how people would then utilize circles. Circles would then become larger than they are today and run up against the 5,000-member limit.
Google+ will not be the same network in six months or even a year. Technology writers are talking about the roll out of Google Games. Games are a reason why Facebook is number one. Another big reason why Facebook is so big is that it allows the uploading of images for free. Flickr, Yahoo's online photo service, allows a rolling 200 images for free, unless you pay $24 a year for unlimited storage. Google+ made the smart initial step of integrating Picasa Web photos and allows certain sized images to be stored for free, on top of what is in your account.
Just like with any social networking site, signing up is the first step. The second is to setup your profile, including a good photo and description. There is a section on your Google+ profile to include links back to anything you want to be associated with. I included my Twitter profiles, business Facebook page, YouTube channel and other photo sharing sites. Next, set your privacy settings to display people in your circles and who have included you in their circles. Add people to your circles, create new circles for people and brands, and then start making comments on other people's posts. This will get people interested in checking out your profile and if you are lucky they will add you to a circle of theirs.
People that are familiar with sharing links and other content on services like Facebook or Twitter will find it easy to do it on Google+. While looking at your stream on a desktop web browser, click into the box at the top with the icons of a camera and link. Clicking on this box will make it larger and then click on the link icon. Put in a link to be attached to the post. After attaching the link, it will display a photo and a description of the destination. The photo can be changed, if there is more than one from the website and you are able to remove the description. I like to leave the description in, so people visiting the link know ahead of time where they will be going.
The Google+ app for the iPhone and the Android mobile operating system from Google make it easier to share the most up-to-date and relevant content. People that have good Twitter lists or are following them will be able to share relevant content more easily on their Google+ stream. After several days of testing, I have found that the easiest way to share content to Google+ while mobile is with the Twitter client Seesmic. Find a Twitter list of content you like, tap on the Tweet, then tap the share button on the top right with two arrows facing up. Select Google+ as the option to share to. For now, this action will create a lot of extra characters in the post. Remove the extra text before the text from the Tweet and after the link. This will create a nice post for quick consumption on your stream. Check to make sure the circle you want the post to be visible to is selected and then tap post. Posting Tweets, while using an iPhone or iPod touch, is done differently. Find the Tweet you want to share, tap to copy it and then open the Google+ app. Create a post by tapping the pencil icon on the top right. Paste the text in the larger box, select the circles you want the post to be visible to and then tap post.
With 200 million users on Gmail and 20 million on Google+, we are already seeing a shift in people getting excited about the next big social network experiment. This new social network is here to stay and will become much larger. Google+ is growing quickly and that means developers are getting excited to create tools for integration. As soon as Google details ways these developers can create tools people will find interesting, more users will sign up on the service. Google+ Games is a future feature to watch, as it could create a revenue stream for Google and game developers. Sign up, try out the new service, follow me on Google+ -- you never know who you will meet or get circled by. Do it soon though, before the noise quotient gets too high for the early adopters.