After taking a toe-hold of the social market Google+ continues to grow steadily. But what is it? What can it offer?
by Phil Rumens
Around a year ago, I had a discussion about Google+ over lunch. I remember saying that I couldn’t work out what it was for. It didn’t have the simplicity of Twitter, nor did it have the sharing functionality of Facebook, so where did it fit? I didn’t really rate it and couldn’t see the point of the platform.
Since then my opinion has changed.
Google+ has evolved and added what are probably its two best features. The first is Communities, the ability to create open or closed interest groups. The latter has great potential for sharing non-sensitive information (you’d probably want something a bit more secure for personal data) over a wide network based anywhere in the world.
The second is Hangouts, which you can use as an impromptu video chat room or set up as an event and invite people to attend. I’ve done this with LocalGov Digital colleagues and it really fits in with the “Digital by Design” agenda, having a face-to-face chat with people all over the country, without leaving the room. Of course this is nothing new, but it just seems a lot easier to do than other platforms.
You can only have 10 people in each Hangout but this isn’t really a problem as any more gets confusing and you can set it to On Air, so it’s broadcast live and recorded on YouTube for those who aren’t in the Hangout to see.
For me, the best feature about Google+ has been there from the start, though wasn’t enough to win me over on its own, and that’s Circles. Facebook has the same concept of creating groups of people to share stuff with but it’s hidden away in their constantly changing privacy settings and it's not very obvious when posting something new. I use Twitter for professional networking and Facebook for social networking; with Circles I feel like I can do both and keep content from those who I don’t want, or they wouldn’t want to see it.
I’m not saying Google+ is perfect, I wonder how long it will stay ad-free, but if you haven’t tried it in the last year give it a go. You might give it a +1.
Phil Rumens is co-vice-chair of localgovdigital a prectioner-led network of UK local government officers.