One of social media’s greatest features is its ability to bring people together from around the world. Coupled with advances in communication technology like smart phones and video chatting, people can be connected like never before. Each social network offers its own brand of communication opportunities- Facebook is great for sharing photos, Twitter offers the opportunity for people to share their ideas and find new connections through hashtagged conversations and scheduled chats, Pinterest is like a giant bulletin board for all your interests and LinkedIn offers a way to connect with others professionally.
But what about Google+? At first glance, this up and coming social network seems to be competing with Facebook. Similar to Facebook’s selective privacy settings, it lets you categorize your contacts into circles. And it’s great for sharing photos. But Google+ offers another service unmatched by any other social network- the hangout.
The Google+ hangout is a free video conferencing service. People can talk about whatever they want and share whatever they’re doing, like cooking or playing games. They can also share content. With the addition of apps, participants can watch YouTube videos together or share Google docs. While only 10 people can participate at a time, an unlimited number of people can watch with the live broadcast option, which allows the hangout to be broadcast on a Google+ page as well as a YouTube channel. And people can participate from anywhere with the Google+ app for smart phones.
This creates possibilities for connecting with family and friends for fun, as well as for connecting with colleagues for business. It’s like a webinar, a Skype call, a YouTube video and a Twitter chat combined into one. Because communication is streamed live, it lacks the limitation of a YouTube video which has to be recorded first and shared later. And unlike a Twitter chat, people aren’t limited to 140 characters per post, and they can see each other. In business settings, traditional video conferencing lacks the ability to record and broadcast later, but hangouts allow those who missed an important meeting to catch up on the conversation at their convenience, from anywhere around the world.
So while Google+ may be smaller than the other social media giants, it has its own unique benefits that are definitely worth a try.