Thanks so much to Paul Maplesden
|Facebook or Google Plus?
Facebook, once the darling of the social media world, is starting to lose its sheen. With the new restrictions on what people can see, privacy issues, increasing advertising, promoted posts and less relevant content in news feeds, many people are starting to look for alternatives.
Fortunately, there’s an interactive, well supported, rapidly growing, easy to use social network that’s ready for you right now, Google Plus. In this article, we’ll explore some of the similarities, and differences between the two networks, answer some of your questions and let you know how to make the switch.
Hang on, isn’t Google Plus a ghost town?
Google Plus has certainly had this criticism levelled at it many times in the past, and once, that might have been true. When the network first launched, it was quite tricky to find other members and interact with them. Now, that’s all changed.
In late 2012, Google Plus launched Communities, interactive forums where people with common interests could gather and discuss the things important to them; some of these communities have around 50,000 members!
They also improved their ‘Find People’ functionality, making it easy to find former colleagues and classmates, review your existing contact lists and providing suggestions for interesting people to follow.
This, together with Google’s continued promotion and support of the network means that it’s now the second biggest social media network in the world with 340 million users active there every month.
OK, so what is the main difference between Facebook and Google Plus?
If there’s one main difference, I’d say it’s this:
- Facebook focuses on connecting you with your existing friends and your relationships with them
- Google Plus helps you build new connections, find interesting people and discover content that can surprise and delight you
That’s not to say that Facebook can’t help you discover new things, or that Google Plus can’t help you stay in touch with your current friends, far from it.
Google Plus is simply setup to let you define exactly what you want to see and from whom, whilst also highlighting some of the best people, content and thinking so you can expand your interests and horizons.
How does that work? How can I control what I (and others) see in Google Plus?
When you follow people in Google Plus (just like friending them on Facebook), you can add that person to one or more Google Plus ‘Circles’. You can make these circles about anything you like: you might have one for family members, one for business colleagues, another one for people that post awesome photographs and another for popular science.
Circles have two major advantages:
- You can post your content to one circle, all your circles or to a public feed, so you can control exactly who sees what you post
- You control what you see from every circle in your content feed. You might want to see everything that your family posts but only the best posts from the photographers
That’s all very easy to setup in Google Plus and it will quickly become second nature. This means that you can interact with the people you want to in the way that suits you best.
What about Facebook Groups, is there anything like that?
Yes, the Google Plus Communities feature. G+ communities are interactive, constantly updating, live forums where people can share ideas, discussions and thoughts on thousands of different subjects.
There are Google Plus communities on just about any topic you can think of, including art, science, literature, social media, amusing memes, music and many, many more. In fact, one of the best ones is the ‘Google Plus Daily’ community, but you didn’t need me to tell you that!
How can I discover new content?
One of the best aspects of Google Plus is the very wide diversity of people, topics, content and more that it will expose you to; there are lots of ways of finding new content:
- Joining some of the more popular ‘public circles’ and having other people share stuff with you
- Joining some communities and discovering content that way
- Using the ‘Explore’ function in Google Plus which will let you know what’s popular on the network
If you hang around on Google Plus, it won’t be long before your horizons expand!
One of the things that I find annoying in Facebook is all the ads and promoted content, how does Google Plus deal with that?
It doesn’t, because it doesn’t need to. Google Plus doesn’t have paid advertising or promoted posts. The interface is actually pretty clean and uncluttered, meaning it’s easier to focus on the content and not have all of the different screen real-estate trying to grab your attention.
This all sounds great; does Google Plus have any features that Facebook doesn’t have?
You bet. Two of the most exciting features on Google Plus are personalised search and hangouts.
1. Personalised Search – As we all know, Google is always working to try and provide the most relevant search results for our questions. One of the best measures for this is what our friends and connection think; after all, if it’s relevant to them, it may well be relevant to us.
Google Plus uses these connections to suggest search results based on what your contacts on Google Plus like. If they have read and liked an article, it may show up higher in your searches on a similar topic when you do a standard search on Google. This means that you get to the information you need more quickly.
2. Hangouts – Imagine if you could hold a real-time, virtual meeting with video and audio with a chosen collection of friends, colleagues or others. Google Plus has this functionality built in, through ‘Hangouts’. These are virtual meeting rooms that you just need a microphone and (optionally) a web cam to join and are a great way to discuss common interests.
Can you do a side by side comparison of Facebook and Google Plus, so I can see whether what’s on one social network is also on the other?
Certainly, here you go:
|Compare the features of Facebook & Google Plus
And this is just the start; Google Plus is only going to grow and become more popular, it’s time to make the switch, or at least come along and see what’s happening.