The Pros and Cons of Google+

Over the past week, I've been digging through my potential blog post list, but nothing spoke to me. Then, inspiration hit when corresponding with a few Twitter friends about Google+. This won't be the timeliest post, but then again that's not the goal for this blog. Hopefully this will be helpful for those who haven't jumped onto the Google+ bandwagon or are struggling to see the value of using another social networking tool. Or maybe you're good with what you have.


For those unfamiliar, Google+ is a social networking tool that's very similar to Facebook. We can share status updates, pictures, videos, website links, etc. For each post, people can comment on and/or +1 (or "Like") what was shared. Basically, if there's something you can do in Facebook; Google+ probably has a similar feature. So let's get into some of the advantages and disadvantages of Google+.

Advantages of Google+

Google+ is built upon organizing people into groups called "Circles". Dividing people into groups (family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) makes it easier to see what a subset of people is up to. Facebook has similar capabilities, but working with their groups is cumbersome. For example, to move existing friends into "Lists" on Facebook, we need to manually locate each friend; hover over their name; hover over the Friends button; and check which lists to add the friend to (see Figure 1).

Screenshot showing how to organize people in Facebook
Figure 1. Grouping People in Facebook

Google+, on the other hand, has a slick interface for adding people to the appropriate Circles (see Figure 2). We just need to drag the people into the corresponding groups. For those uncomfortable with Facebook calling everyone "Friends", people are identified in Google+ based on which circle they're in. So that cousin, who's really your enemy, doesn't need to be mixed with the people you really like. :-P

Screenshot showing how to organize people in Google+
Figure 2. Grouping People in Google+

My favorite Google+ feature is the ability to edit posts and comments (see Figure 3). There have been many times where editing would have been handy on Facebook. Instead, they require a bad post to be deleted and re-written…or just live with the typo(s). The same goes for comments. On Facebook, comments with typos could be removed. However, everyone involved with the post will receive a message about the comment—even the deleted ones. That's not a problem with Google+.

Screenshot showing the option for editing posts and comments in Google+
Figure 3. Editing Posts and Comments in Google+

Disadvantages of Google+

One issue with Google+ is that we're unable to edit the information pulled in when posting website links. With both Google+ and Facebook, a title and short description are extracted from the page and incorporated into the post. If the information isn't quite what we wanted, Facebook lets us modify it (see Modify Automated Information When Sharing Links on Facebook). With Google+, we're stuck with what's provided (see Figure 4).

Screenshot showing how Google+ incorporates link information
Figure 4. Link Information in Google+

The biggest issue for me is that Google+ isn't currently supported by HootSuite. Instead of individually posting the same thing to Twitter, Facebook, etc., HootSuite lets us make a single post to all services selected (see Figure 5). Since Google+ isn't included, it's easy to forget posting there due to the extra effort of opening another app or visiting a separate website when posting.

Screenshot showing the posting process for HootSuite
Figure 5. Using HootSuite to Post


After using Google+ for a while, I'm still on the fence with the service. It seems like a good alternative to Facebook which I use to communicate with friends and family. For networking with other folks in the Web community, Twitter is currently my tool of choice. So I'm unsure where Google+ fits in. Granted, I haven't spent a lot of time building my Circles, so maybe that's what's missing. However, I'm not quite ready to give up on Google+. Especially since so much focus is placed on Google+ entries in Google's search results.

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