Last week I mentioned a challenge of using Google Plus exclusively for personal use. Since I do some social monitoring for client work, I couldn't totally ignore Facebook (and a paycheck) in the name of science. I laid out some strict ground rules so that I could still use Google+ as my network of choice while staying afloat on Facebook with our agency dummy account. What did I learn?
One Week by the Numbers
My first day back on Facebook, I had received 22 notifications the week before. That is probably more notifications than I receive in a month on Google+, easily. It only took me about three minutes (if that) to scan through those notifications and "catch up" on Facebook.
Intentional vs. Passive Time
I noticed when I used G+, I went on there with a bit of a mission. I don't have near as many connections, therefore I didn't have as much information being thrown at me at once.
In addition, I found the information way more useful. I've probably been more intentional about what I follow on G+, therefore having a better stream of information to read through.
Plus, very few personal connections shared anything on the site (at least with me). That took down the noise, memes and other mumbo jumbo tremendously.
I notice that on Facebook I get sucked in and just click links or read comment threads, almost whether I want to or not. Facebook is a site I could go to without any real purpose except for killing time. I didn't find G+ to be the time killer Facebook was - which wasn't a bad thing.
Features and functionality
After a week of exclusivity, I still find G+ easier to use. I loved it. The entire design is much slicker than Facebook. Chats are easier to use and much easier to switch from video to text and back to video when necessary, keeping everything in one place. We have Google Hangouts with remote coworkers and clients at DeMoss, so this ease of integration was great. I could never do that with Facebook.
Photos are probably G+'s best asset. They've taken all of the functionality of Snapseed and integrated into their desktop experience. Now you can play around with photos, enhance them or just put your own artistic twist on your "slice of life" moments.
I played around with one photo Megan and I took on a hike over the weekend. Here's the initial shot, still a decent quality taken with my iPhone 5.
Here's what it looked like after I put way too many effects on it using G+'s photo editing tools.
You can use a one-click enhance for photos or do what I did and really alter your photos. Sure, the same argument could be made saying you can filter photos on Facebook's Instagram. Sure, but you can't put near as much customization behind it.
Technology versus Community
@TeresaCaro asked me if I saw G+ as a community or a technology.
I think it's both.
There is definitely a community out there. It's a cult "we're the only ones on G+" group that I think thrives on not being on Facebook. I would almost think they would hate it if G+ was truly "mainstream" in the sense that Facebook and Twitter are.
On the other hand, I see it being used more now by most as a technology. We use Hangouts to keep in touch with friends or co-workers via video or text. Companies and brands post links to their content on G+ to boost their search ranking. I've used events to send out party or happy hour invites to people. After all, most of my friends use Gmail, so the calendar features work very smoothly.
Will it evolve?
It was funny how my G+ experiment evolved into a "let's take a week off of Facebook" scenario. I loved my time away from Facebook. I didn't notice until days one and two of my experiment how my knee-jerk reaction was to go to Facebook if I had more than 2.7 seconds of downtime. Going to the dummy account several times trained me out of that. Since I wasn't getting sucked into Facebook, I magically found more time to do other things (like, you know...read books and stuff).
I don't think G+ will become mainstream in the way Facebook or Twitter has for keeping in touch with friends and relatives. Nor do I think Google has that intention. I see Google using Plus as a backbone to their whole product ecosystem. I could still see this being a fantastic B2B social networking tool for companies using Google Apps to run their businesses.
If a tree falls on G+, a few people will hear it, just not that many.
The pros of G+ are the features and design. Also the fact that my friends aren't all on it so there isn't as much noise.
The cons are that my friends aren't all on it so there's very little to do at the moment in terms of non-branded content.
Facebook's pros are that more people are on there and it was a better interpersonal communication tool. I see non-work related things there.
The cons are that all my friends are on Facebook and I don't always want to hear what they have to say. Lots and lots of noise. And ads.
Will Google Plus die? I don't think so. It's here to stay. I don't believe it will ever be a Facebook competitor - and I think Google will be okay with that. I think once more people start using their other core products, a migration to more G+ use will be natural. It may not be used the same way Facebook is - but I do see usage increasing in the future.
As for me? I may stick around G+ a little longer and curb back (personal) Facebook a little more. I liked the break.