This week's Follow Friday arrives with only a few hours to spare. I will blame the heat.
If you do not live somewhere that the weather reached 100+ today, consider yourself blessed.
This week we're going to talk about social media. I'm sure many of you have heard about Google's new platform, Google+ (or G+ for short). I've been checking it out for about two weeks now so I'm going to offer my perspective on the newest Internet time-suck.
My first reaction when I heard about G+ was that I wasn't interested. I already spent plenty of time using Twitter and Facebook and it seemed that another distraction was the last thing I needed in my life. I never used the now defunct MySpace. I've experimented with other social portals such as Foursquare, GetGlue, and LinkedIn. None of those seem to be worth a great deal of my time. After about a week of buzz, though, my curiousity was piqued about G+. I asked for an invite from a friend and joined the nerd herd.
Admittedly, the platform is still in Beta, which means they are testing features and rolling out new capabilities all the time. I like the fact that I can sort my "friends" into circles and then decide who gets to see each bit of information, from the posts that I share to personal bits of info like my occupation, location, or resume. Some people have pointed out that this customization is available on Facebook as well but I find Facebook's privatization and group settings to be cumbersome and difficult to understand.
Another thing that I like about G+ is that it's like an expanded version of Twitter. On Twitter, you can follow people and they don't have to follow you back. In a similar way, you can put people in your circles but they don't have to reciprocate. I have one circle labeled "Bloggers and Internet Friends" where I have put many folks that I only know virtually. I also have a circle called "New and Info" where I follow lots of editors at news organizations such as Mashable, Huffington Post, NBC, CNN, and NPR. There are lots of Google employees on G+ as well (of course) and they are a great source of information on the latest updates to the platform. There has been a lot of information on the Huffington Post lately with guides on who to follow, how G+ works, and the latest updates and changes. Unlike Twitter, it's easier to have a "conversation" with people once they post and you aren't limited to 140 characters.
Another interesting part of G+ is the Sparks area. Sparks are customized news feeds based on personal interests. I have sparks for Mad Men, movies, nonprofit news, and a few for some bands and musicians that I follow. The sparks pull current news and information from the web that you can read (and then possibly share with your G+ circles). The problem I'm having is that I love to read and I soak up information like a sponge. That's where the addiction comes in. Some people spend hours on the Internet playing Farmville. I spend my time reading my RSS subscriptions.
Finally, the biggest advantage I see of G+ over Facebook is reducing the noise factor. Lately, I have found myself just skimming my Facebook news feeds. I already hide games and silly applications such as "Madame Price's Fortune of the Day" or the inane hearts and flowers that people share on each other's walls. On G+ you don't seem to find a lot of meaningless verbage ("I'm making a peanut butter sandwich right now!") or blind copy/paste syndrome ("If you believe that we should only eat red fruits for 3 hours a day while standing on our heads, copy and re-post this on your Facebook wall. Only my REAL friends will do this.") Sorry, folks, but I find that really annoying. Facebook seems to be full of this type of chatter these days and I'm trying to tune it out.
I found one of the best comparisons of Facebook and G+ in my news feed today and I think this about sums it up.
If you are on Google+, please add me to one of your circles (even if it's the Really Annoying Blogger Chicks circle). If you'd like an invite, send me a note from your gmail account and I'll send you an invitation. I don't think Google+ is for everyone but for now, I think I'm diggin' it. Happy surfing.