Business and Finance

Four Reasons to Join Google+

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Online Social Networks represent a powerful and relatively new form of communication.  However, the large number of social networks can make it difficult to figure out which ones to join.  This article is part of an editorial series explaining why you might want to join a specific network.  Hopefully, these articles will help you navigate the sea of social networks and join the ships that work for you.


Google+ was launched on June 28, 2011.  It is the social media network that represents Facebook‘s biggest competitor.  Nearly one and half years later, the Google+ network has about 500 million registered users.  We’ve been unable to determine the number of active Google+ accounts in Malaysia or America; however, we suspect the figures to be significantly lower than Facebook.

That being said there are still some key reasons to consider joining Google+.


1. Google Hangout

Google+ users can create and participate in Google Hangouts.  Google Hangout is an easy-to-use, multi-functional video chat product.  Why is Google Hangout great?

First, Google Hangout can be used directly through your web browser.  This means that you don’t need to download, install, and open an an independent application.  You just need to login into your Google+ account, create a hangout, and invite your connections on Google+ to join.

Second, Google Hangout offers a screenshare function which is fantastic when you need to discuss something visually (such as a website, presentation, document, etc).  When you select this feature, you can select to share your desktop (meaning, that the person your chatting with can see your exact desktop screen as you do) or select to share a specific window (meaning, you can share just a specific window, such as Microsoft Excel document that is open on your computer).

Third, Google Hangout allows group video chats – currently, up to 9 people at a time.  For those participant who start annoy, the creator of the hangout can choose to mute or block the person.

Fourth, Google Hangout can be fun.  You can create public or private Google Hangouts.  Private ones are typically aimed for discussing directly with business colleagues, friends, or family.  Public hangouts can be used to discuss specific topics with people that share the same interest, which you can create around through Communities in Google+.  Additionally, you can add special effects to your video chat, such as visual or sound effects, which bring a new dimension of entertainment to a Hangout.  Below is an example of some visual effects added to me in a Google hangout





2. Staying Connected

Like all social networks, the main purpose of joining is to stay connected – whether it’s family, friends, news, gossip, or whatever interests you.      Google+ supposedly has 500 million registered accounts and 235 million active accounts. That’s a large number of accounts to create some activity to follow and engage with.   While I tend to know quite a few people who have Google+ accounts, I barely know any friends or family with active accounts.  It’s likely you may fall in this same category.  That being said, Google+ can still be a useful platform to follow your favourite media, products, services, businesses, organizations, and celebrities.  Google+ has also revamped a feature called Communities to help bring people together who share similar interests.


3. Quality User Experience

The Google+ interface is well-designed, offering an engaging and warm interface.  It is uncluttered and easy to navigate.  Given many people’s strong familiarity with Facebook, it may seem a little confusing, but for a a 1st time social network user, the Google+ platform would probably seem more intuitive than Facebook.  The core component of Google+ are circles, which is also simple to use.

You can connect with other Google+ users with circles, which basically represent categories for your Google+ connections, such as business colleagues, friends, followers, family, and any other circle (category) you want to create.  These circles make it easy to share and communicate information directly to specific groups of people while also keeping certain information private from your other contacts.


4. Interconnected with Websites and Other Google Products

You know a social network is gaining presence when you start seeing the social network’s share button on a website’s article pages. For Facebook, this is the “Like” or “Share” button, for Twitter, it’s the “Tweet” button.  For Google, it’s the +1 button.  We’re starting to see more and more websites incorporate this +1 button, reflecting how Google+ is permeating the world wide web.   A neat feature about this +1 button is that when you click it, you can then select which circles you’d like to share the post with.  For example, if your reading a business article that is relevant to your colleague, you could choose to share it just with your business contacts in your Google circles.  If you came across a funny article that you think your friends would like, you could +1 that article and select your friends’ circle, so your friend only see your share.

Usually when people think of Google, they think of Google Search.  However, Google has a plethora of products, which are connected with Google+.  If you have a gmail account, you can easily add and categorize your emails contacts to your Google+ circles.  If your on YouTube, you can easily start a hangout and watch a YouTube video with others.  This cross production connect can enhance your experiences with other Google products.



Ultimately, should you get a Google+ account?  It’s not necessary, and the social networks you’re currently registered with (i.e. Facebook) probably suffice.  You probably won’t feel compelled to join the network until there is a critical mass of friends or family already on the network.

However, Google+ offers some cool features and the product continues to grow, so I’d recommend creating an account and following some brands that interest you, whether its news, sports, or entertainment.  And if you’d like to try a new video chat product, then you should definitely create a Google+ account so you can use Google Hangout, which you’re bound to enjoy.


Are you on Google+?  What have been your experiences?  Post comments below, and let’s talk!


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