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Is Google Plus Going to Be a Contender in the Social Media Playground?

  • Google has spent years trying to break into the social media world. After failed attempts with products like Google Wave and Google Buzz, it seems that the search engine giant has finally found something that works: Google Plus. Often also listed as Google+, this social networking tool was first only available by invitation. Gathering more than 10 million users during this exclusive time, Google Plus is now open to the general public and all that you need to get started is a Gmail email address.

    If you're just getting started, Google Plus will ask you about adding contacts from your Gmail and other email accounts. You can also use the search feature to search for users by name or email address, allowing you to connect with all types of people that are using this social media tool. Google also has a 'Suggested People' feature that shows cards of people that you might know or want to add, based on previous email communication or other interactions. When you find people that you want to add, you simply drag them to the proper circle to include them on your list of connections.

    What are circles? Circles in Google Plus are the equivalent of Facebook groups, but with a lot more security and scrutiny in how and what you share with different circles. If you want to keep certain areas of your life private, it's a lot easier with Google Plus than with Facebook and other social media competitors. Default circles include family, friends, acquaintances, following, and 'block', which is a circle that allows you to block people from seeing your information. You can add other circles or remove ones that you don't use, as well.

    The Google+ Stream looks like a clean-cut rip off of the Facebook wall, no doubt. But you can't really blame them for taking advantage of what works. In fact, in light of Google+ Beta going public recently, Facebook even made some changes to its own 'Wall' feature to keep up with the competition. There are unique features to Google Plus that you won't find on other social networks, including group video chats known as 'Hangouts', apps for Android and iOS, and the serious lack of annoying updates on who is leading the Mafia or dominating their farm.

    The Bottom Line? Social Networks Should be Scared of the Competition

    Given all the features, as well as the fact that Google Plus is linked to the biggest search engine on the internet, it definitely has a place in the social media playground. There is a lot to appreciate about this new social media offering. Google Plus has more structure, a better design, and features galore with more add-ins planned in the coming months. Quite frankly, it's possible that it might even gain its rightful place in the social media world simply for having the Google name attached to it, all features and functions aside.
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