Take Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, & FriendFeed, and integrate them with a host of free Google apps… then stir in some creative new organizational designs, and some Skype functionality, and you have the new Google+.
This is the internet giant’s third and best attempt to be a Social Media player. (The others, were — forgettably — Google Wave, and Google Buzz, now both discontinued).
Officially called the Google+ project, and still in limited Beta, “G+” as it’s coming to be known, is available to private individuals on an increasing basis, now, if you can get someone to invite you. Send me your (preferably Gmail) email at email@example.com, and I’ll send you one.
In the first two weeks of limited membership, G+ has grown to 10-million members — mostly guys, geeks, early adopters of Social Media, and no business accounts.
While FaceBook is not shaking in it’s boots at those numbers (FB is closing in on 800-million),FB CEO Mark Zuckerburg is noticeably silent on the upstart social network (BTW, he IS on G+ and has more followers than anyone…even more than Google’s founders).
Google+ developers obviously did their homework, and the platform had a host of polished features right out of the chute. Google employees are visible everywhere on the site, and are listening. In fact, you could almost think they’ve been assigned as monitors of the site to help answer questions and concerns. They deny that, saying they’re only proud of the new project, and want to make it successful. Either way, there are daily tweaks and improvements to the site — many from the suggestions submitted by new members.
At the bottom of this blog you’ll find a bunch of links I’ve been collecting to give you a lot more hints and tips to make your Google+ experience easier.
You may wonder whether another Social Network would be of value to you when FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are challenging enough. That’s a fair question, and one only you can ultimately answer. There’s only so much time in the day, so G+ may be just another time-suck OR the perfect combination of features that you’ve been looking for to best utilize your time in Social Media. I wouldn’t mislead you on this… G+ is worthy of your evaluation. Just remember, it will require some effort to get things as you like them…which can foster a “start with a clean-slate” attitude — OR — a “here we go again!” roll of the eyes.
5 WAYS TO APPLY G+ TO YOUR VO BUSINESS
1) Near-perfect format for furthering the conversation. G+ has a timeline like Twitter, without the 140-character limit. Not only that, you don’t have to go digging for others’ responses and your comments…all those are just stacked below your original post in chronological order (a la FaceBook). Furthermore, unlike FaceBook, you can go back and edit your original post all you want. No more of that “OMG, I typed the wrong word…delete the post….and post again.” Even more, you can choose whether to even allow comments to your post, or whether other can re-post it! Lots of options for engaging…and engagement is the new buzzword in social media. Without engagement, you’re just blowing hot air…and no one wants to listen to a blowhard.
2) Pictures, Videos, Links, Geo-Location. G+ just makes it easier to include all this in your posts. For instance, while FB lets you add pics, vids, or links to your posts, G+ automatically connects to your Picasa photo library, and lets your choose your uploaded pics (not on Picasa?…you’ll want to be with G+…it’s free, and Google has big plans to build new features into this picture-sharing service very soon). Geo-Location? Not everyone wants to be nailed on a map, but this can come in handy…and that’s a feature FB does not have. And when it comes to linking your videos to a post, don’t forget Google OWNS YouTube, so you know that’s gonna be a cinch! G+ also lets you upload pics and vid from your phone (so far, only Android).
3) Circles. The most noticeably different feature on the G+ interface is CIRCLES. It’s an easy concept to grasp. As you add friends, you drag and drop their profile into categories or “circles” designed and named by you. I have a circle for people I know in Vegas, VoiceOver, Social Media, Family, and so forth. Great. Now what? As you post, G+ gives you ultimate control over who sees your message. The default is “public”…but the decision can be yours to only send the message to your family…or to all your friends in VoiceOver…to several circles at once…or even one individual. Imagine how this may work in your favor to get the word out to all the people in your “Clients” circle when you need to tell them something like you’ll be gone for the next two days. Instant newsletter!
4) Google Integration. In case you haven’t noticed, Google is coming on strong. Its integrated suite of online tools is growing, and finding influential partners. Just the other day, Box.net announced its already successful service will be shared with Google Docs. Google will be weaving their many apps into Google+ in ways that will make your mind swim. Look for the G+ interface to be seamlessly integrated into Google Docs, YouTube, Maps, Google Reader, Google Analytics, Picasa, Google Translate, Calendar….OMG…I think you get my drift. In this sense, Google has it all over FaceBook, which has to go out and curry or even pay for these relationships with other providers, and the integration is not always pretty.
5) Hang-Outs. Talk to 9 other people from any of your circles in real time, with video and sound… instantaneously. Skype and even Fring offer this, but it costs. With Google, it’s just another free feature of the platform (built on their Google Talk technology). It works. It’s easy. It’s addicting. During the session, you can type memos to anyone in the Hang-out, and all of you can simultaneously watch videos or share information that any of those attending want to call-up. Hang-out is getting probably the most positive feedback from early adopters, and this may also be one of the key features you can incorporate into your VO business. Collaborate in real-time together with your client, your agent, your editor, your producer, and another talent on a shared project, and it’s not just a phone call…you can see all the nuances of body language during the Hang-out. I’ll let your imagination run with this one.
Honorable mention: Development, 3rd-party software, apps, and free plug-in contributions were immediate, helpful, free, and innovative. More stuff is coming out by the day…Chrome extensions, widgets for WordPress, methods for porting over your contacts from FaceBook, add-ons to the interface. In other words, geeks have spoken, and they’re enthusiastic. They like the direction Google is going here, and there appears to be tons of support in the online and social media community.
Caveats: Google is carefully controlling their baby. No business accounts (yet), no open advertising or promoting allowed. There have been a few application glitches, but they seem to be mostly minor and quickly fixed. No add-on applications like FaceBook’s rich offerings (yet). This means — for instance — that your SoundCloud app doesn’t work here…but you can still post a link to your shared Sound-Cloud mp3′s. No Groups…a feature I find quite worthy on FB. I don’t quite see how “circles” offers the same functionality.
In short, G+ is quite engaging (engagement…remember?), easy-to-use, enabling, and just…fun!
Below, now, my aggregated list of G+ online articles that help explain a lot of the detail and offers a few add-ons. Let me know of other resources you’ve found…or tips and tricks that I’ve blatantly missed.
How to Import Your FaceBook Contacts on Google+