Google Plus? But I don’t have friends there!

“No matter how good Google Plus is, it won’t be fun if my friends aren’t there!”

In my last post I listed 21 reasons why you should ditch Facebook and switch to Google+. 21, folks. That’s a lot of reasons. The issue, of course, is how good a platform/service has to be to get you to give up Facebook, when Facebook is where nearly all of your friends are, and the main reason you use Facebook probably isn’t all the geeky technical reasons I listed in that post, but to have online fun with your friends. That’s valid, and I want to address that in this post.

On a certain level, there is no persuasive argument against this. If your friends are not on a social network, it is not very social, and there would seem to be little reason to use it. So why would you want to switch to Google Plus if you don’t have friends there?

1. Chances are good you have more friends there than you think

I am not suggesting you have scores of friends there (although it’s possible), but perhaps more than you think. In response to my previous post, someone told me they didn’t “know anyone” there except for me. One of his friends then responded to him, “What? You’re on Google Plus? I didn’t know that, so am I!”  Google Plus, right now, has roughly 1/5 as many users as Facebook. But 1/5 of 900 million is still 180 million people, more users than Twitter.  Google Plus is the number two social network, and it has only been around for a year and a half. Chances are decent that you know a few of its 180 million users.

2. Out of all of your Facebook friends, how many of them regularly post things that interest you?

How many have you muted so you never see their posts at all? How many would you be okay if you never heard from again, but you just haven’t wanted to hurt their feelings by unfriending them? If you could take a subset of your Facebook friends with you to G+, how many would suffice to make it an interesting place to be, especially given the frustration and garbage you’ll lose by ditching Facebook? I still don’t have enough on  Google Plus to make it as fun as I’d like, but that’s partly because…  

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21 reasons you should ditch Facebook and switch to Google+

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For well over a year I have been trying to get my friends — heck, anyone within earshot — to set up a Google+ account and give it an honest try. Every time I post on Facebook about how people need to switch, someone asks me to be specific about why. This post exists to answer that question as specifically as possible so from now on I can just direct people here instead of continuing to write down the same reasons over and over again.

#1. The first and most important reason you should switch to Google+ is because it gives you more control. Facebook users constantly complain about how frustrating and messy the security and privacy settings are. That is because the security and privacy settings are in fact frustrating and messy — there’s a real problem there. Google+’s settings are much easier to understand, implement, and monitor. You will know more intuitively what is being seen by whom and what isn’t.

#2. Recently, as part of an effort to increase Facebook’s revenues, Facebook capped the number of friends who can see any one of your posts. This is frustrating for someone just using Facebook socially, but for those trying to reach audiences and and fan bases, it is down right maddening. On Google+, all of your “friends” (G+ calls them “circles”) will be able to see all your posts. Why else are you spending time collecting groups of friends on Facebook, other than wanting to reach them with your posts? Don’t you want to know all your friends at least potentially can see everything you’d like to share with them?

#3. When you close your Google+ account, you take all your data with you. Your Facebook data belongs to them forever and ever. Google+ allows you to easily download everything you’ve ever posted, and then you can delete your account completely. If that were the only difference between Facebook and Google+, that would be reason enough for 900 million Facebook users to ditch it and switch over.

#4. Games are handled better. I despise Facebook games. I don’t play any of them, and am constantly getting invitations to play the games my Facebook friends are playing. Google+ has similar games, but you either play them or you don’t. You will never have to tolerate a barrage of game invitations, nor will you ever be notified that so and so just earned a cow in Farmville.

#5. Google+ handles photos far better. It integrates nicely with the Google-owned service Picasa, and gives you a huge amount of control over the posting, editing, and sharing of your photos. Facebook doesn’t even come close. If you’re a photo person and haven’t checked out Google+, you would love it.

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