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 Lyn Mettler on July 25, 2011 at 4:58pm
Invite coming your way Tawanna. Thanks for the comment!
Comment by Tawanna Browne Smith on July 24, 2011 at 11:39am
Hi Lyn,
Thanks for your article on Google+. Beeen seeing lots of snippets of it around Twittersphere but this is the first thorough coverage that I've read. I'd love to try it out as well if you have any invites left. I'm tcharbrowne on gmail.

Comment by Tamara Maellaro on July 15, 2011 at 5:52pm

Hi Lyn,


Loved the post. I've been wondering about the Google plus. I was very curious about privacy. That is one thing I don't like about facebook.

I always love getting your posts in my email



PS I sent you a message

Comment by Talina Hermann on July 15, 2011 at 2:47pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it! Pretty interesting. It's also great to hear that women are a part of those lucky first 10million users:-) Way to go!
Comment by Keonte' on July 15, 2011 at 11:56am
It sounds like there is a happy medium. Like you have more control over what you want to be public, who you want to talk to, etc. I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the information.
Comment by Lyn Mettler on July 15, 2011 at 9:13am
Thanks for the comment! You've been invited. Come back and let me know what you think of it.
Comment by Julie Arduini on July 15, 2011 at 9:12am


I literally just finished reading Tristan Higbee's review of Google+ when your article came in my inbox. As a writer I know I was advised to make sure readers had other ways to follow my work besides Facebook (as in sign up for my newseletter) because one day something would come along that would leave FB in the dust. Wondering if this is it?

Thanks for a great article. I'm intrigued so if you have any invites left, I'd love one. I'm jarduini327 on gmail.


Julie Arduini

Surrendering the good, the bad, and---maybe one day---the chocolate





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