Let us admit upfront that, as much as a boon as they are to communication in general, social media are not without their drawbacks. Chief among them: social media can be a tremendous time-suck. Keeping up is a scramble, and even Twitter clients such as Seesmic and Tweetdeck (now part of Twitter, btw) that allow you to update multiple Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and FourSquare accounts simultaneously don’t address the fact that each of these media demands your attention individually. Paying attention to social media all day doesn’t give you much time to do much else. Like, you know, work.
So the last thing we need is another social media platform, right? In fact, the most common reaction to the launch of Google+ I’ve heard outside the nerdosphere goes something like this: “Oh, god. Really? I just don’t think I can handle anything else like that.”
After using Google+ for a week, I have the opposite response. I think maybe we need something exactly like this. Facebook
and Twitter aren’t going anywhere for some time, but Google+ may just be the One Site to Rule Them All.
Why? For starters, the interface is everything you expect from Google: clean, simple, intuitive, a pleasure to use. It features a Facebook-style content stream, so users familiar with Facebook won’t have any trouble adapting.
Here are five more things I like:
- With the Google+ Circles feature, I can easily divide, subdivide, and categorize all my contacts. This makes it easy to customize the stream of information I see. For example, I may want to see only what my friends are doing, or only what my clients or the people I work with are doing. This helps me concentrate on the task at hand and not get distracted with everything else going on in my world–and still have everything else at my fingertips.
- Circles also lets me easily control who among my contacts sees which updates. I don’t have to spam my family with worked-related stuff, and vice-versa. And I don’t have to make public every bit of my life to everyone in it. All of a sudden, I can maintain a little more decorum in my professional relationships. (As if I’d want to. But you might.)
- I can set up a news feed with Circles and get the latest headlines delivered all day long–just like I can with Twitter.
- Speaking of latest stories, the Sparks feature works like an RSS feed. I can set up a list of the topics for which I want to see new content–say, “healthcare marketing” and “New York Mets”–and it’s always there, at the click of a button.
- I don’t have to leave my social media/news interface to use the Google search engine I employ all day, anyway.
Like Facebook, I can share status updates and web content and comment on what others have to say with Google+. Like Twitter, I can get my news and follow interesting people I don’t know. Like LinkedIn, I can maintain my professional contacts and keep them separate from my personal contacts.
So, ultimately, why do I need Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn?
The answer is, I don’t–not if I can accomplish 85 percent of what I do on those platforms with Google+. I already can–and I’m not sure I can’t do 130 percent. Google+’s Huddles group video chat feature could be revolutionary, and the Sparks feature is already making my workday easier.
No, you can’t abandon your other social media just yet. And no one’s exactly clamoring for an alternative to Facebook. But no one was clamoring for an alternative to MySpace, either. It’s far to early to make any rash predictions. But Google+ may be the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn killer.