A Google+ primer

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If you're anything like the other 10 million people who have signed up for Google+ since the new social networking tool launched three weeks ago, you probably feel like you're at an awkward middle school dance. Everyone's just kind of hanging out around the perimeter, waiting for a bold friend to go forth and start socializing. Adele Tiblier, director of interactive strategy at FSC Interactive marketing firm, shares some wisdom and tips about Google and its terrifying (but so convenient!) quest for dominion over all information.

What makes Google+ different from Facebook or Twitter? Do we really need another social networking site?
Google+ is the marriage between Facebook and Twitter. It gives you more control over what information goes to who, and it's less about the popularity contest because people don't know how many friends you have. It's more about the quality of information, and it segments (information) based on what you find qualifies for each circle. It's a little overwhelming to get used to, but once you do, it's less overwhelming because it's filtered based on your preferences.

What's the deal with the circles?
With Facebook, you get so much information from people who you may have no idea who they are. Google+ allows you to create circles, which are similar to a list, so it gives you the option to segment (your streams) and make them easier to read. At work, I may only want to read the work stuff, versus what my friends are putting on there. And you can be more selective with whom you share your information. For example, I'm not going to share SEO stuff with my family — only with people in my professional circle.

But I don't want to offend my family members by not putting them in the friends circle.
No one can see that. It shows you're in a circle, but it doesn't show which one. And it ties in to other Google products, so for those who aren't on Google+, you can share information to their Gmail accounts.

What about businesses who want to use Google+ as a marketing platform? Is that possible?
Google has explicitly said they do not want businesses to create profiles in Google+, but people are still doing it. There's a sign-up sheet for people to say "I am a business," but Google has to approve it. So Google says not to get angry if you create a business page and it gets taken down, because they are creating pages that are specific for businesses, which should be ready within a month or two. And they are looking at how to monetize ads.

I find it a little bit freaky that Google will have so much of my personal information.
You have to think of the amount of information we are open to share with any of the sites we are on and look at what we get back from that. The reason people put information out there is because they want to share it, and the effect of that is they get ads very specific to what they are doing. Is that such a bad thing? Because everything is gathered. They have everything. The terms of service, which no one ever reads, say "We own your data, and we aren't going to share it unless it is under subpoena." But they have it and are very clear they will use it to provide relevant content, but that relevant content could be a gain for them financially.

So users are essentially trading personal information for this networking service.
Information is completely the new currency. Information is what rules everything. Everyone wants data, and (Google) has a whole lot of it and are getting more and more by the day.

What final advice do you have for Google+ users?

Don't be scared of it. Be mindful of what you put online. If you want more information on certain things, make sure they are what you talk about. You are being watched for a purpose, and that purpose is partly financial gain for others, but it is also to give you relevant information. Google does a good job of getting us what we want.

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