Google Plus + Westvyne MarketingGoogle recently opened up its latest venture into the social networking arena, Google+, to an invitation-only group (being a major geek, I was ridiculously excited about securing an invitation). Though not yet released to the general public, and still in development and testing at the moment, Google+ (or Google Plus or G+; who knows what will end up as the final shorthand?) already has some features that I like. Here are a few:

Circles: In Google+, you can place people into groups, called Circles, with incredible ease. Yes, you can group people in Facebook and Twitter as well, but Google allows you to use a simple drag and drop of faces and names. You are able to move people around at will, and they don’t know which of your Circles they are in (for instance, you could name a Circle “The Competition” and the people in that circle will never know).

When you post something, you can easily choose the Circles with which you will be sharing. You also have the option of creating as many Circles as you want (at least I haven’t run into a limit yet).

Google Plus Circles Westvyne Marketing

Another useful thing you can do with Circles is change the visibility on a per-circle basis. You can have some circles that anyone can find out about, some circles which are connections that only other people in your circles can know about, and some circles whose membership is completely private. In other words, nobody but you will know that you’re following those people.

Huddle: When you use Google+ on your smartphone, you can create a “Huddle” that is essentially a group text. Create a new huddle-specific Circle of your staff, co-workers, friends or family, or huddle with a circle you have already created.

Hangout: This feature may give Skype some serious competition. A simple download to your computer gets you up and running on video chat as long as your computer is video capable. If others in your business or network are already logged into Gmail, it’s simple to see who’s available or already in a “hangout”. As with Skype, companies with telecommuters or multiple offices can use this feature to connect. The difference here is that it’s integrated with a social network and email (Gmail) where people may already be logged in and spending time. It’s a Skype alternative that Google’s deep pockets will probably continue to enhance and tweak, and it’s already pretty good.

Do-overs: Google+ let you edit your posts after you share them. One of the people in my network said that it was great to be able to edit something so that her “moronification” could be changed- without having to erase the whole thing and start over.

Check out a connection’s entire digital presence: Much like LinkedIn, you can add your website, Twitter account and other digital accounts to your profile so that people in your network can check you out in other places.  If you’ve already had a Google Profile for a while, this is nothing new, but seeing it in context with Google+ makes it all the more valuable. Of course, you can share other accounts on Facebook and other platforms, but Google makes the links fairly prominent.

If you’re interested in joing Google+ when it becomes available to more people, be sure to put some time into your Google Profile in order to get ready.  If you don’t have a Google Profile yet, you just need a Gmail account.  When you’re logged into Gmail, click on your name on the top right and you’ll see a link to your profile. 

I do believe that Google has a serious contender for the social networking arena. Time will tell just how serious it is.

Westvyne Marketing