People ask me all the time ‘why I love Google Plus’… or rather why I even give it the time of day. It seems that some people still think that Google+ is not ‘quite there’ yet in terms of being ‘up there’ with the best of them… I have to say that I disagree. So, I will try and explain why me and google plus have quite simply double clicked.
I first used it when it was still in development BETA stage as I had had a gmail account forever and been using Picasa for many years to store my photos. Google has always been pretty self explanatory for me. In the same way that Macs or rather using Macs is a very intuitive experience, so it is with Google plus. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I really only take into account the ‘fluffy’ side of technology. I am not particularly bothered about whether Google does or does not have ownership over whether or not they can use my images. I don’t really care about whether google is a match for Facebook or whether Twitter will suffer from the growth of Google plus. To be perfectly honest, I am far too selfish and only really care about whether it works for me…(I do sound terribly selfish here!)
Initially I loved discovering what it was all about. I started to put a few comments in and once I had worked out who I wanted to follow, I just started following all kinds of people frantically. As I am interested in photography, the majority of the people I follow are photographers, either amateur or professional – whatever that actually means ( a topic for another day). At least this is where I started. I also am interested in Social Media in general, so my next thing was to find other people interested in the same, some that were more qualified and more tech savvy than myself. As you start to follow interesting people, you also start to get a bit more experience and find out more about them from their actions. This is a very wide statement and one that I will come back to. What it really means is that the more you get to know the people you follow, the more you interact with them, the more you get to know what makes them tick.
Of course, this is the same on twitter… but is it? Can you really get to know people in 140 characters? I would say that in all the time I have been on twitter there is only one person that I can say that is true of and we are now real friends in real life and she is no longer on Twitter. I left Twitter for a while and then came back, purely for business purposes and now I just don’t feel the same way about most of the twitter interactions that I have. Anyway, I digress slightly!
So – I follow the photographers mainly and artists and really no famous people at all, as they don’t do anything for me. I have no interest. What really interests me is the sense of community that Google plus has brought about. Community or a sense of belonging, is probably the hardest thing to ‘create’ – it is not something you simply say ‘I want to create a sense of community’ and then you just do it. It is something that happens organically, if it is to happen at all and this is where I think Google plus has succeeded or rather where the people who are using Google plus are of like minds. On many occasions there have been some incredible tales of community spirit. Google plus as a platform allows for lots of people to follow each other. It also allows for a lot of people to communicate and engage with each other – especially in the photography community as there is a lot of love and many +1’s that come about if you post a photo. If you join in with the daily photography schemes then you meet an inordinate amount of people who love what you love. For example tree tuesday (photos of trees), coffee thursday (you guessed it, coffee), and I think you get the general idea – Macro monday! As people engage they get to know each other, more about their own lives, their woes, their successes. This is where the community spirit is even greater than Twitter for example. There is a lady who is bed-bound with illness; C. Corey Fisk. She is a paraplegic and can no longer get out and see around her, but is confined to her own four walls. Someone set up the hashtag #howwasyourdaysweetie and encouraged everyone to send a photo or collection of photos during a special week to Corey so that she might be involved and see what everyone is doing – a day in the life of…so to speak. It was the most beautiful experience to be a part of. Currently the lovely Lee Daniels who is also a photographer, is suffering from cancer. The hashtag that has been set up for her by someone fabulous is the #happythoughtsforleedaniels. People can then send her great vibes as she strives to rid herself of the illness. I also love that her mother has insisted on taking a photo of her once a week to record the illness and her suffering, so that when she is on the other side of it she can look back and however bad life gets, she can see that it is on the up. I don’t see people like this anywhere else. I don’t get this sense of caring and belonging, anywhere else. Twitter is funny at times and don’t get me wrong, I have met some good people on there. Facebook on the other hand is largely full of my friends past and present, not people I don’t know. In fact I only have two people on my facebook account that I have never met. I don’t necessarily think that there is any competition between any of these streams of social media either, as I believe that they all serve very different purposes. I would however very much like ALL of the above in the same place, sharing with each other, posting on each of the time lines at the same time (only sometimes), so that I don’t have to faf around all the time when I want to tell all of my social media friends the same thing… my friends are not all on facebook or twitter or google, so it would be great to have a bit of open sharing and integration. I doubt however, that will happen. I am also unlikely to shift all of my attention from one (say Facebook) to the other (google) as I really like the different conversations I am having on each. I don’t always want my facebook friends on Google Plus and I certainly don’t want all the people I know virtually on Google Plus to go on my facebook – which is why they are great in themselves!
From a technical point of view, Google plus just works for me. I love the picasa google integration. I use picasa all the time, and even if I am using something like Adobe Lightroom I can still upload photos directly to Picasa (and Flickr and smugmug, which is fab!). The hangouts on Google plus can accomodate LOADS of people, even though I have yet to use them… am a bit shy… I love that my albums are easy share and easy view and quite simply I can spend hours and hours on google plus and learn things, read things, never get bored, laugh, cry, and just be.
I have completely forgotten to mention Pinterest of course, but Pinterest for me is too addictive and too much fun! I love Pinterest but it doesn’t give me the scope or the sense of community that I feel when I am on Google Plus.
There is an absolutely brilliant and succint article about Google Plus on the Marketing Professionals website which I have only just read. It is well worth a read, even if it does have the same title as this blog – randomly – perhaps I should change it or perhaps its just nice with all the love for google plus coming their way at the moment.
I don’t know if I have managed to convince anyone to have a look at G+ in more depth – I would suggest spending a couple of hours or a couple of days just having a look around and posting things and seeing what interests you. If you have time of an evening, sitting with your laptop, watching telly and having a nose around Google plus, then I really don’t think you will be disappointed at all. Of course, it is not for everyone, but you are never going to find as many likeminded people on Facebook or on twitter as you will on google plus as the platform is simply designed better; better for posting, better for knowledge sharing, more space and better for engaging as human beings whilst not being confined to 140 characters…
Let me know what you think, once you have given it a little time.
Have a wonderful weekend! I am off out to with my 50mm 1.8 canon to shoot some portraits this weekend… maybe… if the weather holds – if the storms come, as promised I shall me in wellies, with a plastic bag around my camera, a child slave to hold the umbrella and I shall be shooting the rain! Enjoy!