I finally made the time to start playing around with Google+ and since many of my friends have asked me what I think, here is a preliminary review. The way I am analyzing it is motivated by the question: will it become bigger than Facebook?
Right now, Facebook is the largest social networking platform. However, many gen x'rs and baby boomers are still using Facebook only for personal connections and not professional networking. I had read that Google+ Circles would make it much easier for users to post content to only certain groups of people. Guess what? It does. I still maintain that you should only post things on the internet that you want the whole world to see, but I am also a much more open person than many people I talk to.
Here's the drawback. To get started, you have to add each individual person to one of your circles. I am not sure that the average Facebook user is going to spend time adding each of their contacts to circles. It takes a bit (o.k., a lot) of time. Google+ will suggest people you e-mail (from your gmail account) and people who are active on Google+ (who you probably don't know). You can import other e-mail accounts as well, but it will take time to re-create a large social network that you might have on another platform.
Google+ is like Facebook, Twitter and Skype all put together. You can follow people you don't know like you do on Twitter and they may or may not follow you back. You will see their public updates. It is a great communication tool for the circles of people in your life. I have started putting some of my circles together based on the hashtags on Twitter that I follow.
You can send group messages and updates to particular circles and you don't have to make them public. However, the feature I like the most is Google+ Hangouts. You can have a video conference call with up to 10 people. (On Skype, you have to upgrade to see more than one other person on video.) It includes a "push to talk" button so you aren't talking over other people. You can pull up a YouTube video and everyone on the call can watch it if they choose.
Because it is a Google product, you can expect more streamlined sharing from products other than YouTube. (Blogger, Picasa, automatic back-up of photos from your Android phone, etc.) That was the reason I chose Blogger for my blog over WordPress. It looked like Google was trying to take over the internet, so I thought I would jump on board!
Leave your comments here with your questions or tips as you start to explore Google+. If you need an invitation, click HERE.