Is Google+ really as good as you've heard it is? Yes, it is. Long before Facebook and Twitter existed, I was using "social networks" such as mailing lists and Usenet newsgroups. I was also a dedicated user of BIX, CompuServe and GEnie. So, when I say Google 's new Google+ is the best social network I've ever used, I think that means something.
Why? Well, there are several reasons. First and foremost, I love the circles concept.
Circles are how you organize the people you choose to follow on Google+ . People can add you to their circles, but they'll see only those posts that you choose to make public unless you add them to one or more of your circles. Even then, you can easily choose which of your circles will be allowed to see certain posts.
Compare that to Facebook , where, generally speaking, everything I write can be seen by everyone who follows me. So, for example, my Linux friends get to read about what I've seen in my local live theaters, and my close friends and relatives get to read all about Ubuntu. Would you believe that not everyone who cares about Ubuntu also cares about what's playing in the theaters in Asheville, N.C. ? Seriously, it's true.
As fellow Computerworld writer Mike Elgan points out about circles: "If you address it to "Public," it's a blog post. "If you address it to "Your Circles," it's a tweet. "If you address it to your "My Customers" circle, it's a business newsletter. "If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother."
Sure, you can jury-rig something like that in Facebook, but it's cumbersome. Why bother when it's ready to go in Google+? Every time you post something, you quickly and easily designate which circles will be the audience.
And it works the other way. Let's say there are a lot of people out there who want to read what I have to say about Ubuntu, but I don't want to read each and every one of those folks' general posts about life, the universe and everything . I can either not put them in any circle or just place them in a "Linux Fans" circle, and then not include that circle in my usual Google+ stream. In other words, with Google+, it's easy to specify whose posts will make it into your stream.
I'm also in charge of how much other information other people can see about me based on my circles. So, for example, people in my "Friends" and "Family" circles can find my phone number, but no one else gets access to that information. Unlike Facebook, Google+ seems to understand that not all friends are created equal.
Setting up circles and adding and deleting people from them is mindlessly simple just drag names (or faces) between circles on your display.
I could go on and on about other features like the multi-user videoconferencing and Google+ Hangouts but circles alone are enough to convince me that Google+ is a game-changer.
So what does this have to do with your business ? Everything. Even though Google+ currently isn't allowing businesses on its new service , business leaders like Dell CEO Michael Dell are already using it. He floated the idea of using Hangouts for technical support on a public circle. Public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the idea, so once Google lets businesses join Google+, you can expect Dell tech support to be there.
Of course, social networking is already important to businesses' marketing efforts. But Google+ could be the social network that becomes part of your business process. If you agree, you'll find me on Google+ . I hope to see you there.