Last Sunday, I decided it was time to give Google+ a fair shot. I’ve tried to get into it several times but always kept coming back to Facebook. I use Facebook a lot for several reasons:
Most of my friends use it.
This is the biggest reason. Some of my friends have decided they don’t want to use Facebook, but the vast majority of friends and family have Facebook accounts. It’s easy to go to Facebook to interact with them. Having a new baby makes those family Facebook photo posts almost essential.
It’s really easy to post to Facebook.
Facebook has an API that allows services I use to post to my feed. Foursquare checkins, tweets, even my Xbox can send a message to my Facebook feed letting friends know I want to play a game. I can send things to Facebook via Buffer and IFTTT. Google+ doesn’t allow such things. If you want to post to Google+ you have to log into Google+ and post a message.
iPhone/OS X integration.
Snap a photo with my iPhone, send to Facebook. Facebook notifications, messages, and friend requests pop up on my Desktop and with a click, I’m on Facebook. Google+ doesn’t integrate with Apple products. Sure, there is an iPhone app, but it isn’t part of the OS.
To give Google+ a real chance, I knew I’d have to fully disconnect from Facebook temporarily. I deleted my iPhone apps, logged out of Facebook on my MacBook, and replaced my Facebook bookmark with Google+. I’ve been using Google+ instead of Facebook for a week. Here are some things I’ve learned:
Google+’s interface is great.
Google+ has a user interface that is very clean and tidy. No messy Timeline, the “liking” (AKA +1) and sharing is very simple, and posting an update includes easy buttons for links, videos, photos and locations.
Google+ has a fantastic mobile app.
The Google+ iOS app blows Facebook’s app away. If I never logged into the browser version of Google+, I’m pretty sure I could do everything through my phone. Facebook’s app is terrible, and some features still require a browser. They innovate at a snails pace. Why do I need separate apps for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Pages? Ridiculous.
Hangouts (and Hangouts on Air) are a killer feature.
The ability to video chat with several people from my buddy list on the fly was unreal. You can share your screen, or just one application you are running. I thought about using Hangouts on Air – where a Hangout is recorded and posted to your YouTube channel – for a weekly interactive tech podcast-like thing. I wish I could have more work meetings using Hangouts.
The social pressure I faced to use Facebook was unexpected.
My wife’s aunt emailed me because I hadn’t posted pictures of my daughter in a while. I felt left out of conversations among friends and coworkers that had either started or continued on Facebook without me. My nephew has an imaginary friend and everyone knew about it but me because my sister-in-law told the family about it… on Facebook.
I got “Oh yeah you aren’t on Facebook,” several times from friends and family before I getting caught up on the latest news from them previously posted on Facebook. It was eye-opening how much Facebook is integrated into everyday social life and how out of the loop I was for not using it.
It’s hard to use a social network when the majority of your friends and family aren’t using it too.
With all of it’s cool features, a better interface, and an outstanding mobile app, I still can’t convince others to use Google+. The best analogy I’ve thought of to describe this:
There are two bars across town from each other. One bar is where all of your friends are hanging out. You’re at the other bar, calling them and saying, “Guys, this bar is giving away free drinks! It’s a completely open bar and there’s no wait!” Your friends say “That sounds awesome, but it’s a long drive and we’re already over here. Why don’t you just come join us?” There’s a definite resistance to change. Facebook works well enough for people, even with a better alternative.
Hopefully that changes, because I’m loving Google+. I think I’ll stay for awhile. Come join me!