There’s no way around it: Google+ has taken the internet by storm. Already, smug “first generation” users are creating badges to mark their social media superiority, and it’s clear that unlike the ill-fated Wave or Buzz, Plus has some sticking power.
But with all your friends already on Facebook and Twitter, and possibly on a hoard of lesser social media sites like Quora, Digg, Pinterest or Tumblr, why on earth would you want to add another network to your online life?
Here are three good reasons why you should.
1. Everybody’s doing it.
Hate to break out the bandwagon approach, but Google+’s explosion lends to its own credibility. It took Facebook 852 days to get to 10 million users, while Twitter hit the milestone in 780. Google+? Sixteen. Yup. Sixteen days. Google+ did in 16 days what Facebook did in two and a half years. The Next Web does a great job explaining some reasons behind this ridiculous phenomena.
Now, this could naturally be a case of preaching to the choir, and the social-media hungry wolves spreading the Google+ buzz much faster on existing networks. Recent news suggests the honeymoon phase is over, as growth has stagnated and the inevitable profiteering companies have found ways to turn +1’s into cash. Still, with strict no-business regulations and the API yet to be turned over to third-party developers, Google+ has nowhere to go but up, and you should be on board.
2. It’s the cure for social media awkwardness.
Sure, you can be socially awkward, and nowadays, you can even be blighted with social media awkwardness, which I’ll helpfully diagnose as SMA. Some crippling examples of SMA: Twitter-sourcing for the best happy hour, after telling a suitor you’re calling it an early night. Or the dire need to share last night’s most vile Tosh.0 video with your college friends, proving to your boss, no, you’re not ready for that promotion. Or maybe the perennial, crippling moment of SMA indecision: “If I accept their friend request, they’re going to comment all over ALL my stuff. If I don’t, it’s going to be really awkward at work tomorrow.”
Google+’s biggest selling point is their cure to SMA: circles. By placing your contacts in designated circles, you can decide what to share with whom. Individuals can be placed in multiple circles, so your mom can be “family” but also “people who like cat videos.” And the circles are entirely up to you. Go with the basic, “Family,” “Friends,” “Work,” or think about what really matters when you share or want to read things: “Same Sense of Humor,” “Friendly, but not Friends,” “Read and learn.”
You can also post publicly, a lá Twitter. The best thing is that if someone adds you to their circles, you’ll be notified, but nothing makes you follow them back. They’ll only see what you post publicly.
3. It’s a great venue for discussion.
Facebook has chat and messages, Twitter has hashtags chats, but Google+ has really established itself already as a place to hold discussions.
More than half of Facebook users are now older than 25, and its the over 40 crowd that still uses Facebook really aggressively, commenting on statuses and holding conversations. Google+ is becoming the forum to do the same valuable opinion-gauging, but with the option to open up the discussion to the public. Social Media expert Steve Rubel uses his Google+ almost entirely in “public” mode, and the discussions he generates around ideas, articles, and yes, Google+ itself can be staggering.
Google+ serves as a better place to gauge interest and ask questions that require a discussion, rather than the friends-only option of Facebook or the 140-char limitations of Twitter.
Are you on Google+? What’re your thoughts?