Reasons to Join Google Plus

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Google Plus (g+) but maybe you’re hesitant to join yet another social media site. I know was a little reluctant to join too at first. I’d heard that it was “a ghost town” and although 100 million users is far from a ghost town I can definitely understand why people feel that way.

I kept hearing how great the Google+ experience was for others and I felt sort of left out of all the fun. Eventually I figured out that in order to get the most out of my Google+ experience I had to add more people to my circles (friends/following list).

Well it’s official Google plus is one of the fastest growing social media platforms on the Web. Recently several news agencies reported that in less than a year Google plus (g+) has reached 100 million users and some tech watchers predict that it will hit 400 million by the end of 2012. So, are you on Google plus?

Obviously I’m on Google plus and I’d love for you to come circle me, but there other reasons why I think joining Google+ is worth the effort.

Connect with Favorite Bloggers, Sports Teams, Brands, and Businesses

Maybe your family and friends aren’t on Google+ yet, but I guarantee that some of your favorite bloggers, music bands, sports teams, brands, and businesses are. Circling them on Google+ will give you an entirely new perspective on those you follow on and offline because most aren’t just re-posting what they’ve shared on their blog or website. Instead, they’re expanding on those themes, sharing other interests, and dialoguing with the larger community.

When you visit an individual’s website it’s like walking into their real-world business; however when you see them on Google+ it’s like running into them at the local coffee shop or pub. The atmosphere is more relaxed. The conversations are more varied and free flowing.

It’s Your Virtual Coffeehouse

Since many of my family and friends weren’t yet on Google+ I decided to search for and circle people with similar interests, hobbies, and passions. I discovered that many of my favorite bands have Google+ pages as do most of my favorite athletes and sports teams. After I included some of these people, bands, athletes and sports teams to my circles I began to see why everyone was so excited about g+!

Visiting my Google+ stream began to feel little like going to my local coffee shop or pub where I can listen to and participate in interesting (public) conversations. The atmosphere is casual and open and I’m free to become part of the conversation by commenting on the posts in my stream (wall/feed). In this way, I quickly become part of a community of people who are interested in some of the things I care about.

Google Hangouts

Like other social media tools Google+ lets you chat with friends and play games, but one of the biggest reasons for joining Google+ is so that you can take advantage of their free Hangouts function, which lets you video-chat with up to 10 people at one time.

People are using Hangouts in some pretty creative ways. I’ve heard of fantasy football leaguers’ using it to discuss and razz one another about their draft picks. Others have used Hangouts to cook together, each in their own kitchen following the same recipe and talking as they go. I’ve even heard of musicians performing small, intimate concerts for their Google+ fans. Really, the possibilities with Google Hangouts are endless. Other ideas include:

  • Lessons: Taking a cooking, knitting, music or other type of lesson with a group of people from all over the world.
  • Reunion: Okay, so it’d be a small family reunion, but families whose kids have grown and are all in different cities might really appreciate being able to connect over Google Hangouts – especially during holidays, birthdays, or other important family events.
  • Collaborating: Artists, scientists, teachers, healthcare providers, CEO, and others could work together collaboratively via Google Hangouts.

I’ll talk more about Google Hangouts later, but the fact that I can connect with friends (old and new), family, and colleagues at a distance has made it one of my favorite Google+ features.

Improved Communication with Google+ Circles

Another thing I love about Google+ is begin able to share my thoughts with the appropriate circle. How many times have you posted something on another social media site and had some of your “friends” complain about the post?

One reason this happens is because there isn’t an easy way to group people in logical categories like family, friends, and business associates. The things that you may want to share with your family and friends aren’t always appropriate for sharing with your business contacts. To them, those casual messages may come across as spam.

On Google plus you can easily organize your contacts by simply dragging and dropping them into appropriate circles. When posting a comment you decide which circles are have access to the post.

Your circles might look like:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Business Associates
  4. Foodies
  5. Book Club
  6. PTA
  7. Public

Although you can invite your friends and family to join Google plus, it may take your firsthand experience of the site before you’re able to convince them it’s worth the effort. The first step is to set up your personal profile and eventually your business page.

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