Google+: Reaching for the right tool
Professional carpenters are distinguished from inept nail benders by their knowledge of what tools best match certain tasks. Unlike the person whose only tool is a hammer, social media users should view Google+ for what it is, not what some wish it were; it’s another tool. Just as a craftsperson wouldn’t use a chisel to do what a jig-saw could do better, networkers will do well to learn what applications best fit this new social networking implement. So far, those moving from early adopters to regular users seem to have figured out just that.
Google+, now out of beta, continues to evolve in terms of usage. Prior to the start of college classes, GPlus demographics were trending with strong similarities to Linkedin. Engineers topped the early list of the site’s largest occupation categories with over 70% of the users falling in the 25-45 age range. Given these stats, features such as Circles, Google+’s means of differentiating content among a user’s list of People, (G+ calls contents People not Friends), may well end up augmenting Linkedin contact interaction. Now that students are discovering Google’s newest social media site, other functions may appeal to this younger cohort of users.
Hangouts, G+’s audio/video chat option, may prove attractive to college students for more than social connectivity alone. The potential for professors to incorporate this feature into their coursework, especially when it comes to small group or individual conferencing with the instructor, is highly likely. For social uses, students using both the Circles concept of separating interests among classmates as well as live communication, makes this an area to watch as more data builds to reflect the newest uses of Google+ since students have begun to populate the site in big numbers. While Skype users may not abandon their accounts for Google, having a new means of video chatting without leaving the GPlus platform is an option that many will find useful.
No discussion about Google+ can, it seems, be held without some comparison to Facebook. Despite similarities in both appearance and functions, key differences between the two should drive away most early predictions that Google was planning to “replace” FB. Again, Google’s’ Circles will offer users a second chance to not post material meant to make some laugh but that ended up causing others grief. Those with burnout from Facebook overuse will also appreciate the newness of GPlus.
Until Google+ establishes a base of regular users, and with well over 25 million users in just the first month of service, that base will only become stronger with the addition of the site’s first year of student usage, the best use for this new tool is speculative. Still, uses not quite met by existing social media sites will be identified, and like any new tool, those practicing the craft of networking will reach for the right tool in a growing chest of applications.
About the author: Lindsey is a successful writer covering social media and business topics. She is currently finishing work on her graduate degree. She is an advocate of working people, particularly women, pursuing their online mba program.