Q&A on Google + with Jon Halperin

Google + logo from Mashable.com

Q: Is it a good that Google has created a competitor to Facebook (Google +)?
A: It’s great!

Q: Why is Google + exclusive through its invite-only joining mechanism?
A: Well obviously that makes it cooler, so now you really want to join.

Q: Is it difficult to be invited to Google +?
A: The user base has jumped up to over 10 Million users, so it’s pretty easy to get an invite. Anyone with an account can invite you, and people get approximately 500 invites to distribute after they sign up.

Q: Now that I’m on Google +, what the heck do I do with it?
A: That’s the real question…

Think about how everyone communicates on a daily basis.  You don’t announce everything to everyone at once.  Generally you engage in conversations aimed at specific groups of people. There are two main reasons for this: 1) Not everyone cares about the topic at hand, and 2) If it is something of a personal nature, you may not want everyone to know.  As the number of people that we can stay in touch with continues to grow dramatically through social media, it would be crazy to think that we have the same type of relationship with each person.

Facebook fails in this respect – it forces users to share everything or nothing with a person.  But this is where Google + shines.  It allows the use to control how information is shared with specific people.  When you first sign up for Google +, you place your contacts in different circles, such as “friends,” “coworkers,” “journalist/newsmakers,” or even “people who scare me but I feel bad defriending them” (thanks for the guilty conscience mom).    Then you use these circles to have targeted and meaningful conversations with the people in these circles without flooding your other friends.  For example, what if you want to share that you’re going to JewnityDC on July 31st at Public Bar? Most of your non-Jewish friends probably don’t care about the event, so don’t flood them with the information.  Just click on the circle (or circles) of friends you want to include, add any extra users, and click post. If there are additional people that you would like to email who don’t do Google + yet, you can have the post delivered as an email.

Targeting posts to specific users also allows you greater privacy, thereby addressing one of the main complaints about Facebook. No longer does a post about how your boss is being unreasonable have to go out to all your “friends” – which may include some coworkers – and end up getting you in trouble. Just as in real life, you get to choose who finds out about a change in your job or how your date was last night.

Google + may not be for everyone. It’s not for playing games and its not currently meant for businesses (at least not yet). It’s for sharing targeted information among multiple groups. The initial analysis also shows that Google + has a greater respect for user’s privacy through better default settings and by allowing greater customization of who can view your posts. It’s a technically superior product if you are willing to invest the small amount of time it takes to set up your circles.

Q: Final question:  Will people use Google +, or is everyone already content and invested in Facebook?
A: For Google + to be successful it needs to achieve a critical mass of not just users who sign up, but who also post as well.  Considering the advantages it provides, it would be a shame if people don’t join on.

Jon Halperin is the chair of JNetVA and a member of the Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Board.