Making Sense of Social: Is Google+ the solution to social media burnout?

By Brigette Flood

Is Google+ the solution to social media burnout?

Google ramped up its world domination recently, launching  its social networking platform Google+. My kneejerk response was social network exhaustion mixed with aversion and a glimpse of living in the United States of Google by 2012.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working hard to curate my Facebook persona, map my travels on Foursquare, build my Twitterverse, hobnob on LinkedIn, Stubleupon the cool spots and really digg into the whole socialsphere.

But. It’s Google. And they are smart at what they do (which is like, everything). Plus, invitation only. I had to get into that fenced off area where all the techno hipsters were hanging out. So I begged one to invite me. And she did.

At first glance Google+ feels a lot like Facebook. But then you start noodling about. Which is much more fun once you locate some friends. It’s then you realize one of the defining differences from Facebook: the Circles feature. These are essentially small groups you create based on how you know the people in them. Since you can sort and make any sort of grouping you want, as Google points out, you “put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself – just like real life.” Hey, Google’s even good at funny!

In my limited amount of time playing with Google+, I find myself liking it more and more. It feels more private and personalized, like the conversational value is better. Rather than feeling like you’re reading a personal broadcast (Facebook) or a newswire (Twitter), Circles have a community vibe. It’s something I probably knew was missing in the other platforms but couldn’t define. So… plus!

There are other interesting features: Hangouts, where you can video chat with up to 10 people on a whim; Sparks, which let you follow the buzz on topics of interest; and Huddles, the magic functionality of group chat that no one’s managed to perfect yet (although katango.com is pretty good for Facebook). More to try! And more to come.

Are you on Google+? What have your experiences been like? Feel free to Tweet me @brigflood (yes, I get the irony of that).