I’ve heard it a million times; but as a cynic at heart, I refuse to believe it. Yet as a masochist, I recently paid AMC Theaters almost $15 ($20 if you count the overpriced bag of M&Ms purchased…to be dumped into equally overpriced popcorn) for sweet faced Ginnifer Goodwin and sultry Kate Hudson to lay it on thick. Yes, I am referring to the rom com staple, “love at first sight.” I have traditionally scoffed at the archaic notion, disregarding it as an urban myth. However, last night I was proven wrong.
It sounds so cliché; but I really wasn’t ready for such the experience, I would later tell my besties over brunch. I had just returned home from a rigorous yoga class when it hit me. There it was in my inbox, THE INVITATION
. I couldn’t believe the bad timing; I was so unprepared. I mean, here I was looking like the ultimate gym walk of shame faced with, what I would later realize was love at first sight. It took just a few clicks and a half hour of my evening for me to realize, I had fallen madly in love.
I am so embarrassed for being so brazen so quickly, but I literally can’t hold the words in my mouth (Carrie Re: Berger, SATC Season 5 anyone?) Trust me; I do not wear my social heart on my sleeve. I was so enamored that I quickly forgot the smudged mascara, my desperate need for a shower, and the fact that I really wanted a snack.
“It’s Ok Heather,” I thought to myself. “If Google Plus loves you as much you love Google Plus, your looks will only matter in your profile picture.”
My immediate reaction, with anything in my life, was to impulsively jump right in head first. Having read a Techcrunch article chronicling someone else’s Google Plus devirginization 
, I wasn’t dealing with completely uncharted territory.
My first stop was to tackle, “Circles.” I immediately began the tedious, yet mesmerizing, process of sorting my Gmail contacts into little life buckets by simply dragging and dropping icons. It was truly a Type A’s dream! I kept the standardized Friends, Family, Acquaintances, but added a very special Circle called, “TSA.” I don’t quite understand the necessity for the group, “Followers,” but perhaps that will become clear. It’s funny that in an ever expanding world, our own microcosms have become so vast that we really do need a way to compartmentalize the people in our lives, virtually of course.
Circles are Google Plus’s solution to the great Facebook privacy debate. In my opinion, the circles achieve what Facebook and Twitter lists have been trying to accomplish in a much more user freidnly manner. Instantly organize the people in your life, so that when you feel like sharing a Mashable link, questionable Vegas photos, an important Google doc, or a Double Rainbow…You’ll have no problem ensuring the right people receive the right content. After I completed this easy task, I was already on board.
I moved onto my profile, because having gotten friends, family, and coworkers out of the way, I could really focus what’s important. ME. My profile was already half baked, having pulled information from my existing Google account. However, I very quickly fleshed it out with a self-deprecating intro, work information, education, places I’d lived (with a freakin’ map!), and relationship status. I even topped it off with a catchy tagline that embodies who I am both professionally and personally.
I am really impressed with the “About” section of the profile because it’s easy to scan, highlights important info, yet allows you to be just creative enough. The only thing missing is a counterpart to Facebook’s infamous “Wall,” for which I am grateful. I think like many historic walls before it’s time, this too will become superfluous and crumble.
From there, I uploaded some photos of; you guessed it, ME (and some friends.) I was really just testing out the photo uploading, which is super simple drag and drop. The photos are organized in albums, taggable (watch out friends), and even feature a clean theater view. This is all very similar to Facebook.
After I had filled out my information, I set out to do a little exploring. I quickly noted that my profile is segmented out into Posts, About, Photos, Video, +1’s, and Buzz. I have a feeling Buzz will fade faster than straight hair on a humid day.
My homepage dashboard allows me to use my GTalk, view my real time “Stream” (newsfeed that can be parsed out by Circle), and share content. I can even start or join a virtual hang out, which looks like an easy way to video chat with multi-users. I have yet to thoroughly use the “Sparks” feature, but it seems to be a fantastic waste of time. It easily aggregates relevant content based on topic you find interesting.
I also like the top tool bar that gives me little red notifications as to when I am added to a circle, I receive new mail, or any other minor change. I will be hanging on to every little alert because if a social platform can’t make you feel loved, what can?
All in all, this is a very well designed streamlined platform. I think what I am looking at is one step closer to an all-in-one platform. It feels like I am looking at Facebook, Gmail, Tumblr, Foursquare and the web all at the same time. Oddly enough, I am not overwhelmed at all. In fact, I just want to keep unearthing the capabilities. I cannot wait to see what the mobile app has in store, which will undoubtedly dominate Google Plus activity. I am also looking forward to the day that I can use Google Plus to accomplish anything web related, without ever leaving the page. I am also currently using my Google Plus in Chrome, which could be unveiling a fancy new tool bar plugin.
Working at a search marketing agency, one of my first SEM questions is, “when will ads be introduced?” Will Google Plus follow Facebook’s lead on holding out on ads to keep the “cool” factor alive? From an SEO standpoint, we have to start strategizing for optimization.
So, for all of us at TSA and beyond who were scratching our heads over the +1 button, it’s all starting to make sense now. The +1 button definitely seems like it has something in this platform to actually challenge of the potency of the Facebook Like button. Apparently they have some pretty smart bastards over at Google as well.
Bottom line: Google Plus is causing me to seriously rethink my social life. This is so hard for me to say, but Facebook, I think we need to explore seeing other platforms and profiles. I know this seems sudden, because it is. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I could fall so hard. I am smitten. However, we’ve had almost seven years of monogamy. I gave up MySpace for you, and we talked about how my affair with Twitter means 140 or less characters to me. So, I have to ask that you let me see other platforms, because baby, I’ve found a new +1.