I started using Google Plus about a month ago, as an experiment to see how it compares to FaceBook and Twitter as a social networking site. I use a lot of different social networking sites, but most of them are for very specific things.
— Begin Tangent —
e.g. goodreads for tracking the books I read, flickr for photos I’ve taken, and tumblr for sharing content I’ve enjoyed. However, in all three cases, I don’t really use them for their social functions but for their other functionality. I don’t care that much about finding people who share my interests in books, I don’t look at other people’s pictures unless linked there from a different source, and I almost never reblog stuff.
— End Tangent —
I find I only want to have to deal with one general purpose social networking site. I was on FaceBook for a while, and between their constant privacy issues, and the annoyance of FaceBook’s culture of accepting all friend requests, I didn’t much care for it. Twitter was my one and only general purpose social network. And I do really enjoy it, but there is definitely room for improvement. Both G+ and Twitter have their strengths and weaknesses.
Advantage Google Plus:
Circles – I really like the concept of circles. Being able to group friends is great. Twitter has this with lists, but the advantage to Google Plus is that not only can you read specific circles (lists on Twitter), you can also post to only specific circles. My entire family (including my dad’s dog) is on Twitter. I find occasionally that there are some thoughts I would like to share with others, but not necessarily with them. With Twitter my options are to post it and have an awkward Christmas, or keep the thought to myself. With Google Plus, I can just share it will all of my circles except Family. Just today I posted a joke to my fraternity brothers circle that would have been wasted on anyone outside that group.
Muting Conversations – If you don’t like a thread you see in Google Plus, you can just mute it. You will no longer see it. That is awesome. I find myself annoyed by certain things on Twitter. Specifically, people checking into nowhere on FourSquare, and then tweeting about it. Also, Wil Wheaton blocked me on Twitter, because I disagree with his politics, and told him so, in an extremely dickish way. (I don’t expect you to see this, but sorry, Wil.) In a similar way, I saw a G+ post by Sean Bonner and the politics in it annoyed me (it was either about socialized medicine or socialized education). Rather than start an argument where no one was going to change their minds, and I would just look like an asshole, I just muted it. If this feature existed on Twitter, I’d still be able to follow Wil.
People – If for no other reason, I will continue using Twitter because of its user base. More people are on Twitter than Google Plus. If all of the people I follow on Twitter were putting out the same content on Google Plus, I would probably switch. But they aren’t. So I won’t.
Open API – Every app on the planet can send to Twitter. Only content providers owned by Google can post to Google Plus. I want my posts to tumblr and flickr and goodreads and everywhere else to go to Google Plus automatically. But none of those things are owned by Google, so I can’t do it. But I can and do send all that stuff to Twitter. Admittedly, this leads to issues (see FourSquare nonsense above), but it enriches Twitter far more than it diminishes it. In my opinion, it is what makes Twitter great. Twitter is a central location for finding decentralized content. As mentioned above, I don’t want to find people via goodreads. But I would like to know what people I follow on Twitter are reading. And by allowing Goodreads to post updates to Twitter, I can do that (assuming the people I follow are also using Goodreads). But if there was a Goodreads competitor, and people I want to follow are using that, then I have to now use two independent book tracking apps to see what interesting people are reading. Except that I don’t, because they are both posting to Twitter, so I can just follow them there.
Reader Apps – There are TONS of apps for reading and updating your Twitter timeline. This is essentially a sub-set of the general advantage of having an Open API, but it’s significant enough to deserve its own mention. If I want to check Google Plus, I have to do it using the ONE mobile app (made by Google, of course) or use the Google Plus webpage. This means I have to keep checking the tab throughout the day. With Twitter, I use the DestroyTwitter app, which not only lets me filter out FourSquare posts (I REALLY don’t like FourSquare), but it also pops up alerts when there are new tweets. I don’t have to wonder whether there’s new content.
All in all, I want to make the switch to only using Google Plus. But until they provide an API, and more people start using it, I have to keep Twitter. So the question, unfortunately, isn’t will I switch to Google Plus. It’s will I keep using it and have to deal with managing multiple general purpose social networks. Time will tell, I suppose.