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Google+ Celebrates a Birthday One Year On

So Google+ is one year old *today

*or yesterday depending on what part of the world you happen to be in

One year on from the birth of Google’s first serious social network seems an appropriate time to take a retrospective look at the network A look at what has changed, what’s new, what people and businesses are doing on it, what it’s lacking and what is most likely in the pipeline.

Google+ celebrates a birthday one year on

Google+ facts and figures so far:

  • 250 million users
  • G+ users spend 3.3 minutes per month on the site
  • active Google+ users post on average once every twelve days
  • 30% of users post once and then never return to the network

Google+ features and functions so far:

  • the network is like a stripped down version of Facebook with less of the profile clutter or alternatively, like  an enhanced version of Twitter with richer content options
  • users can share updates, photos, videos and links
  • users are able to organise their contacts easily using Google+ Circles
  • G+ has Hangouts which is Google’s name for video chat which allows up to nine people at once
  • Explore is Google+’s version of Twitter’s trending topics
  • Local combines Google Places with G+ in a Foursquare-esque fashion
  • as of yesterday, the Google+ community can now add and invite other users to events which neatly integrates with Google Calendar
  • companies and organisation can create G+ Pages which have most of the features of Google+ profiles and can have multiple admins in the same way as Facebook

My thoughts on Google+

I have to admit that I am not a regular Google+ user. Part of me is quite annoyed at myself as I love its simplicity and clean functionality, but what it is still lacking for me is an active user base. I know that there are small pockets of really active users who are engaging daily on the platform but unfortunately my Circles aren’t, so for me Google+ is a bit of a ghost town. It is probably quite telling that on the popular tech blog, Mashable, there are only 44 articles in the Google+ section compared with thousands for each of the other big social networks. All that aside though, I think G+ is here to stay and Google are investing quite a lot in the platform by integrating it heavily with their other services including search: what this means is that if you want to be ahead of the curve for the next big change in the way that Google indexes websites, then you need to be involved with Google+.

G+ the good bits

One of the features that active G+ users do seem to have taken to is sharing photos and for those using the Google+ app on their smartphones, this is made even easier with Instant Upload.  This feature automatically syncs any photos that you take into a private album so you can simply select the one you want to share with a single click. Hangouts are probably my favourite feature of Google+;  they are great for face to face communication and the addition of On Air  allows for live video casting to large audiences. Anyone that has used G+ will know how beautiful its Circles system is for organising your connections by drag and drop, allowing you to quickly and easily filter your content and updates. In fact, it’s not just Circles that is well put together in Google+; the whole platform feels very well thought out and is a pleasure to use.

With Google being late to the social media game (I’m not counting the disaster that was Buzz), has meant that G+ has struggled to get users regularly active on the platform but has meant that they have been able to learn from others’ mistakes and build something that is genuinely a pleasure to use.

In summary then, Google haven’t changed the face of social media as they were hoping, but they are still here and are thinking of more interesting ways to make G+ an essential part of our social web experience. I for one intend to use it more!

Oh and they’ve just released a tablet app but it’s not available for iPad yet so I’m not really that bothered.

Are you still using Google+? Have you made it an essential part of your social web life? Or perhaps you completely disagree with me, comments, disagreement and thoughts more than welcome.

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