If you haven’t heard, Google+ has “gone public” — meaning that you no longer need an invitation to get in. I had a brief chance to try it out during the testing phase, when author Jason Matthews (who’s written an excellent ebook on self-publishing ebooks) sent me an invitation. It is definitely worth getting familiar with.
While it has only a fraction of the users of Facebook at this point (and yet that still equals millions), I’d be very surprised if that doesn’t skyrocket in 2012. So, yes, you will find a lot of people are not there yet — but I think they will be. But the reason I’m hyping it up a little bit is not the number of people already on it, but rather one simple feature. You’ll find lots of debate online about whether it’s better than Facebook or Twitter, blah, blah, blah. So, I’m not going to get into that. Instead, I just want to share with you the benefit of its most basic feature — adding people to “circles.”
Basically, Google+ (also referred to as Google Plus and G+) allows you to set up circles of contacts to which you can add whomever you want. This means you can have a circle for friends, customers, family, coworkers, and so on. Technically, you can achieve something of the same in Facebook, but the big deal here is how easy it is in G+. In fact, I’d be very surprised if Facebook doesn’t overhaul its interface in the not-too-distant future to reflect this. Simply put, you just drag an icon of a contact (looks like a little rectangle with the person’s name and photo) into whichever circle (or circles) you choose. It’s very visual and easy. Love it.
So, for authors, this feature is a tremendous and nearly effortless way to segregate your contacts in basically unlimited ways. You can have a circle for fans, customers, business contacts (like marketing prospects), potential fans/customers, inner-circle supporters, publishing industry contacts, etc. Then, as these circles get established, you can choose them (however many) to receive your status updates — business people only receive business-related updates; fans receive updates on your characters or insights; your family receives updates on your holiday travel plans.
I may write more in the future about the benefits of Google+, but as of right now, this feature alone has won me over. Not that it means getting off Facebook — after all, all of the major social-media platforms have advantages and disadvantages — but it’s certainly a tool well worth adding to my author toolbox.