Lauren Magyar
Online Marketing Consultant
Visual Data Systems
The rumors are true; Google has officially announced their new addition to the Social Media world with Google+ . Estimating to reach 20 million users by the weekend, Google+ is grabbing attention in the online world and starting to look like it could be a plausible threat to Facebook.

The similarities between the two social sites are undeniable, but Google+ has some additional features that make it unique:

Circles
The new and better way to categorize everyone on the web is through circles. Google+ starts each user with standard categories such as ‘Friends, Acquaintances & Family’.









After that, it is up to you to create your own circles. What does this mean? No more work profiles or blocking specific people from pictures. Now you can create a group labeled ‘Coworkers’ and post company/industry-related information directly to people who are interested. So your friends won’t have to see work-related material and your coworkers won’t see personal information. Circles may not be the ultimate fix for all privacy issues, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.


Hangout
Another new feature introduced by Google+ is Hangouts, which lets you video chat multiple people at the same time. Whoever it is that you choose to ‘hangout’ with is displayed on one screen so every person in the room can hear and see each person at the same time. Google took video chatting to the next level allowing multiple users in one room and then displaying it in your status messages. For example, if I log into Google+ and see that two of my best friends are in a hangout, they can invite me or I can join them permitted that I am in a circle of friends that they allow into the hangout.



Sparks
Google+ makes it easier to find information on your interests through Sparks. Search for a topic in the search menu and you will get a list of recent articles that are similar to what you searched. In addition, Sparks makes it easier to share content with those who share similar interests. You can save your interests and receive updates on the topic you are interested in. Sparks is a great way to find a community of people who want to communicate with you on topics you are passionate about.


Keep in mind that Google+ is constantly monitoring the feedback from people who are using the site and making changes. Much of Google+ is still in the testing phase. Right now, Google+ has allowed a couple companies to create business pages to use as testers. Later this year, it will be opened up to more businesses who want to create pages. If Google allows business pages to use their apps (such as their calendar, analytics, docs and SO many more), it has the potential to be very beneficial for companies.

For more information visit http://plus.google.com/ or http://www.google.com/+/demo/.