Here are a quick run down of the features of Google+ in a way a Twitter Addict would understand.
Public vs. Private Google Plus Posts
Like Twitter, Google+ is public. But it isn’t. On Twitter everything you post is public unless you make your account private. With Google+, you can publish everything publicly just like you can on Twitter or you can decide to make each post public to a limited “circle” depending on its content and purpose.
We organise a business social curry night every month for local business using Google+. The event is public, but when I post about it, I only share that post with users in my “local” circle.
On Twitter, you follow users or brands you’re interested in. On Google+ you follow too, except that you create “circles” to group those people together in to lists, much the same as lists on Twitter. As with lists on Twitter, you can choose to spend time reading content and posts shared by a particular circle you created; I have circles for Search Marketing, Social Media, Web Design/Development and Local, for example.
Twitter lists are either public or private. Public lists can be followed by other users and those users will be subject to the changes the list creator makes. If the user adds more accounts to the list, every user following that list will be affected by those changes. With Google+, circles are private by default but can be shared publicly in a post and that whole circle added by a new user.
There’s a subtle difference between Twitter and Google+ here though. Once a user has added that circle to his own, that creates his own copy. He is no longer affected by changes made by the original creator.
However, with Google+, I can choose to publish posts and content only to a particular circle, which is not possible on Twitter.
Google Plus Followers
On Twitter users can choose to “follow you”, “add you to list” or both, with Google+ it’s combined. Users just add you to a circle. You can not see which circle they’ve added you to, only that they are following.
Twitter uses the “@” symbol to mention a user, Google+ predictably uses a “+”. On Twitter, you’ll find me @Tillison, on Google+, I’m +Mark Tillison.
Where Twitter provides a DM feature for private messages, Google+ handles this with the limitation of posts to a single user or, better still, you can have a private conversation with more users if you wish.
What and How Much Can You Say on Google Plus?
Twitter has a 140 character limit for each post. With Google+, you’re free to post as little or as much as you like. There are some power users who have even shut down their Blogger or WordPress sites and now only blog to Google+.
Photos and video can be shared to both networks and viewed “in stream”, though Google+ has been designed with rich media in mind rather than an update as it was with Twitter.
Where Twitter users retweet, Google Plussers “reshare” content and can add their own comments to their post. In both cases, the original user who posted is credited and mentioned and the sharer decides which “circle” to reshare that post with.
On Twitter, users reply to the original tweet and the conversation occurs tweet by tweet. If three users reply, that typically creates three separate conversation threads. One of those threads could be joined by a fourth user who includes both the original tweeter and the responder in their response, now creating a conversation between three people on that thread.
On Google+, each post has a single conversation thread, keeping everyone involved in a single conversation. Similar to Twitter, each response can include the mention of the author of the post, a user already in the conversation thread or someone completely new you’d like to include or cite in the discussion. Or ALL of the above, if you wish. Comments are not limited to 140 characters either and URLs can also be included.
Hashtags on Google Plus
Twitter is famous for hashtags, used in the most part to identify what a tweet relates to; a particular subject or event. Twitter users can follow hashtags to join in a public conversation. Google+ also uses hashtags in much the same way but goes a little further; if you select the option in your settings, Google+ will automatically add relevant hashtags to your post.
Just like Twitter, content can be discovered by searching for or following a hashtag.
Google Plus 1’s
Where Twitter has its version of the Facebook “Like” in its “Favourite” button, Google+ allows a user to “+1” a post or even a specific comment on the thread which follows. Typically, most users use this to notify the author that they like the post or comment, or even just to say, “thanks, I’ve seen this”, much as a Twitter user might do the same with “Favourite”.
Google Plus Users
Some stats report that Google+ has more “active users” than Twitter. Whether you accept this as fact or not, the truth is that Google+ is a thriving community full of interesting people and rich in media content. Like the internet as a whole there are some idiots and spammers too, but fewer than Twitter.
One element Google+ has which Twitter doesn’t have is Communities. Anyone can create a Google+ Community and invite users to join and post relevant content. A user who joins the group can see all posts there, post their own and be notified of new content if they wish. A great feature if you’re looking to interact with local businesses or people, or a common subject of interest whether that’s Photography, Football, Crochet or the Stephen King fan club.
On Twitter, it can be tough to make yourself heard. There’s a lot of noise. Whilst that’s becoming true of Google+,there’s a big enough user base to make it worth your time, particularly as there’s a much greater chance of being heard.