I've been getting a lot of questions emailed to me from readers lately. (On photography, on camera bags, on places to visit in Orange County, etc., etc.) I'm going to attempt to address several of these questions publicly in blog posts.
Often, if one person has questions, others do too.
Today, I'm going to address Google+ questions I've already received. It seems like everybody in the blogging/tech/photography world is talking about Google+.
I'm writing as a newbie to Google+, with only a little experience and a lot of learning ahead of me. Google+ is so new, everyone is a newbie at this point!
That being said, I've found myself "lost" on Google+ for hours at a time as I explore it. Part of my attraction is similar to the novelty of a new toy. In time, that attraction might wear off.
(As background, I'm not a huge Facebook fan and find myself using Twitter much more than Facebook for social media. I don't know why, but Facebook just bores me. Maybe because I simply don't care what my boyfriend from 7th grade is doing with his life?)
I see so much potential with Google+. Whether or not it ever achieves that potential, remains to be seen.
So, what is Google+?
At first glance, it looks like Facebook which I assume most of you have experienced.
The immediate difference is that on Google+ you put people into "circles."
As an example, I have circles for the following categories so far:
• The OC
• Photography Clients
• Not Sure Who The Hell These People Are
I've put several people in more than one circle.
So far, I have very few family and friends on Google+.
I haven't invited them either.
It isn't that I won't eventually enjoy having my friends/family on Google+, but right now it's beta and I don't know if they would have patience as the kinks get worked out.
The advantages of circles are many.
For instance, yesterday I "met" hundreds of photographers. I've put them all in one circle. If I have a photography question, I'll ask it there. My other circles won't need to be bothered with it – they won't even see me ask the question.
On Facebook, I would never have friended hundreds of photographers I've never met. In fact, I wouldn't have even known most of them existed. Google+ is different than Facebook, in that, it's ideal for meeting people you share a common interest with.
It's just so much MORE than Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/LinkedIn. There's room for business, family, friends, hobbies – all in the same place. You don't have to expose any single group to information which they have no interest in.
Aunt Betty doesn't need to hear about your drunken Girl's Night Out, and your work contacts don't have to be bored to death with photos of your family.
If I want to brag about my son's recent home run (not likely!) I'll save my bragging just for people in my family circle. My photography friends probably won't ever know (or care) that I have a son who plays baseball.
Circles allow you to compartmentalize areas of your life.
Are you a cliquey person?
You can have your clique in one circle to share everything with, but then step out of your comfort zone by including many new people in a different circle. Why would you want to include people, possibly total strangers, on Google+?
Well, for one thing you might learn a lot of new and interesting things from them.
Your new best friend might be someone you haven't even met yet.
And/or that person you don't think you have anything in common with might be your next-best contact for a dream job.
Circles can, of course, overlap.
You can make posts "public" to everyone,
And/or post things just for one or two (or three, or four) circles to see.
(Yesterday my friend Neil voiced concern he might not see my photos since he's not in my photographer's circle. I explained I would keep most of my photos public and visible to everyone.)
How did I "meet" so many new photographers in just one day?
Well, there's something called "sparks" on Google+.
You can list an area of interest such as blogging, writing, photography, hula hooping, or whatever as one of your sparks. Then when you click on the category you've listed, you get recent news and information on that topic.
I listed photography as one of my sparks, and that led me to an article – which led me to a photographer, which led me to more photographers, which led me to a very, very, long list of photographers on Google+.
I started following them and putting them in my photographer's circle. They reciprocated. Just like that, I found a photography community to learn and share with.
If you're a foodie …
You could do the same with the spark "recipes" or "cooking."
If you're into fitness, the topics are all right there waiting for you.
The possibilities for networking/sharing information with like minded people, and yes – even becoming friends with strangers, seems endless.
When I began blogging I knew NO ONE in the writing/blogging/photography space.
Now I have many good "real life" friends who I initially met online.
It happens all the time.
Likewise, the business/networking possibilities seem endless.
Are there kinks to be worked out?
Yes, there are.
Given a little time, I'm sure Google+ will continue to improve.
So far, the biggest concern I've heard voiced is regarding the legalities of giving Google rights to your photos by posting them.
Personally, I'm only posting low resolution photos and every photo I share is stamped with a copyright mark and my business name watermarked right on it. If anyone, including Google, "steals" my photos, they'll look like crap when printed.
I may feel differently down the road, but so far Google+ is a hit with me.
Have you tried it?
What do you like or dislike about it?
If you haven't tried it, do you have questions or concerns to be addressed before you do?
© Twenty Four At Heart