Plus or Minus? A Review of Google Plus

So after getting my much coveted invite to the latest foray into social networking, Google Plus, I hastily hurried over to set up my profile and start playing around with a social media nerd's dream: a new social network.

I've spent the last couple days messing around in Google Plus trying out the various features and thought I'd share with my favorite "Social Moms" my thoughts. (Sidenote: I have a few invites to share if you want one; just comment or send me a message with your Gmail).

And as I was writing this, Mashable announced Google Plus is about to hit 10 million users!


A Weird Evolution of Both Facebook & Twitter

How to describe Google Plus? It's tough without experiencing it, but it falls into some weird combination of both Facebook and Twitter, but better on both sides! Unlike Facebook, you don't mutually have to agree to engage someone, much like Twitter; however, unlike Twitter, not everything you say has to be public by default.

It's set up so that you have Circles, or groups, of connections. For mine, for example, I have one set up for my company's two locations -- Indianapolis and Charleston -- as well as friends, social media influencers, co-workers and college alums. Because it's not inundated with people yet, I've found myself really just looking at the stream that includes everyone I've included in any circle.

Note, just because I've included someone in a circle doesn't mean that they have to agree to that. They can choose to share their posts to the public, to their circles only, to their circles' circles' or just a specific circle or person. I know, all these circles are a little confusing.

So far, most of the postings on the site have been about Google Plus, itself, and its comparisons to Facebook, and so far, the reviews are pretty outstanding by the social media elite. It's great information and it feels like Twitter in the old days when it was just the early adopters. Conversations were better and more rich because your network was smaller.


Privacy, Privacy, Privacy

It seems no one mentions Google Plus without the word " privacy" in the same sentence. Google, it appears, has gone above and beyond to correct the privacy issues surrounding Buzz in its early days and to counteract all the negative press Facebook gets about privacy.

With each and every post to Google Plus, you choose who you want to see it and Google does make suggestions based on  your past activity, but you can change or add to it.

I think this is a reasonable solution to privacy. It allows you to to share what you want with who you want. 


One of my favorite parts of Google Plus so far is the "hangout" feature. It's basically group video that's simple and free. You simply click a button, invite who you want (based on individuals and circles) and they all pop up individually. It even seems to switch the main video frame based on who is talking at the moment.

It has a few downsides that I can see. I did have an echo issue, even though I had echo cancellation checked. And if you're not on Google Plus at the moment the hangout is created, you may not know you're invited. (Not sure if you get an email notification yet). So you basically have to tell someone via another communications tool to go there and join. 

This is a great free feature to connect my two geographically dispersed teams. We typically Skype, but only one to one, so this is a nice way to add more people, even clients!

Business Applications

Google has thus far asked businesses not to set up profiles, though several have like Mashable and Ford. Google says they are working on a business solution, so hang tight.

Will Plus be worth it for business? I can tell you that Chris Brogan, a social media leader, noted today he had 4000 hits to his website already from Plus in just the last few days. That's impressive. Of course, remember it's being used by people interested in social media at the moment, so they are the ones most likely to visit his site.

It remains to be seen if this will take off with the masses. If it does, I think the previous stat illustrates it's certainly capable of sending plenty of web traffic. 

We will not be recommending it to our clients yet, as it needs to be worth their investment of time and money and that means it needs more eyeballs. But believe me, we'll be keeping a close eye on Plus and using it ourselves to stay on top of the media world.

Some other good posts on Plus:

Are you in Plus? What do you think so far? Will you use it for your business when they launch business features?


Lyn is the mother of two young boys, a total social media nerd and the president and founder of Step Ahead Inc., a company which which specializes in managing social media campaigns for business to maximize results. She is the social media featured blogger for, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine, and also blogs regularly on her company website. Follow her on Twitter at @webprgirl.




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Comment by Becky Homko on August 7, 2011 at 1:39pm

Thanks for the article on Google +. I am already on it. Right now, in my opinion it can be great. It has some neat functions, but also there are not that many on their now. I will also be happy when Hoot Suite and others add it into their posting options. Looking forward to having the apps to connect all them together.


Indiana Work At Home Families

Comment by Lyn Mettler on August 3, 2011 at 11:25am
Sure, good idea Kakie. Going to add you now :)
Comment by Kakie on August 3, 2011 at 11:22am
Hi Lyn, I do have good number of people in my circles and am getting some traction. I thought it would be cool to start a social media parenting circle where we could help eachother +1 what we post on our walls. (Similar to the "Twitter This Please" Boards on the site) You in? Send me an invite. -Kakie Fitzsimmons
Comment by Lyn Mettler on August 3, 2011 at 7:54am
Diane, do you have a good # of people in your circles? Try following some of the big social media folks like Chris Brogan and Steve Rubel.
Comment by Diane Hoffmaster on August 3, 2011 at 5:46am
I have been in for several weeks now but really don't think I am getting much out of it yet. Maybe I just don't know what I am doing!
Comment by Lyn Mettler on July 28, 2011 at 8:29am
Sure thing. You're invited. Let us know what you think!
Comment by Bien Otero, FHom on July 27, 2011 at 8:28pm
Thanks for this great review. I think it sounds great and I do believe there is room for just this type of hybrid. Would love an invite.
Comment by Lyn Mettler on July 27, 2011 at 6:32pm
It does seem more useful for business to me as well but I think that may be because none of my friends/family are on there yet. Let us know what you think of it!
Comment by Jennifer Roland on July 27, 2011 at 6:12pm
I just got an invite today, so I have just barely started using it. It seems more useful for business to me, but that is how I feel about most social media tools. I'm glad to read about some of the more social features of it. I hadn't seen the video thing at all.
Comment by Elle N. Em on July 26, 2011 at 2:47pm
Just used the hangout feature today to chat with friends around the country. They are definitely giving Skype a run for their money.




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