No, this isn't a joke. No sarcasm here. I honestly still have hopes for Google+. This isn't a space to say that "2013 is the year of Google+" or anything like that. I do think it will see some growth. If it doesn't see much more growth that's fine. Looking at the glass half full in that regard, less growth = less noise to sort through.
So why do I like Google+?
UX and design superiority
The design and user experience inside of Google+ far exceeds Facebook at the moment. That's hard to argue with. The layout of G+ is beautiful, easy to navigate and clean. Sorting through contacts is remarkably easier than Facebook with circles. Sure, Facebook has their lists - but Google+ started with circles. After accumulating several hundred friends out of the gate, going back and adding friends to lists retroactively would be a huge pain. In addition, with its obvious integration with Gmail, I can add email contacts to Circles on the fly via my inbox.
Events are cool
Does anyone use a Facebook calendar? Neither do I. However, I do use a Google calendar. When I sign up for an Eventbrite event or other external networking events, I always import it to my Google calendar. So what if my wife and I want to have an impromptu party at our home? We can set up the event and invite our Circles en masse. The event page automatically imports the event into your Google calendar. It provides directions to the venue via Google Maps.
The coolest part of events (to me) is the photo feature. If all of our guests had G+ installed on their phones, any photo they took at our party would be automatically imported into the G+ event page for everyone to view on the fly. Very cool feature IMO that's rarely talked about. Probably because hardly anyone has a G+ app on their phone.
Integration with Google Apps
I mentioned a few email integrations with Circles earlier. I love that you can interact with G+ posts and videos from your inbox without having to click away. The experience is very similar no matter where you're at. Also, the ability to integrate your calendar, Gchat from G+ or mail and even share documents on the fly via Google Docs makes Google+ a very great space for collaboration. Throw in communities for more private group communication, you have a very powerful tool at your fingertips.
I still think Hangouts are cool. Seriously. Videoconferencing with 10 other people - free - is awesome. Being able to share my screen would be perfect for client reviews on different projects. Hangouts On Air will eventually cause a video shift in podcasting (if it hasn't already). I don't know how that would affect those of us with a "face for radio" but there are a ton of cool opportunities for Hangouts. It's only effective, however, if everyone involved in your group is a G+ user.
At the end of the day, I think Google+ is extremely powerful and seamless for any company trying to institute a more collaborative or social business structure. The user experience is phenomenal. Google already does a wonderful job pleasing stockholders and doesn't have to make knee-jerk, consumer-angering actions to monetize something else out of need.
What holds G+ back is that there's not too many active people on the site. My non-geek friends aren't out there, just news publications and other tech junkies like myself. Could we see a tide turn?
I'm going to do my part and try and proactively use G+ like I used to use Facebook. Maybe I'll like it...or maybe I'll figure out why nobody uses the site. We'll see.
In the meantime, if you're on Google+, let's circle up!