Google+ Communities Pushes for Interest Based Social Sharing

While I have never been a big fan of Facebook, I love following some really interesting groups on it. It is the one feature I have always complained about missing on Google+. Not any longer, Google+ has not started rolling out “Communities” feature today. The new Google+ Communities feature should show up over the next 24 hours on your account.

While some might say that Google+ Communities is yet another borrowed idea from Facebook, but it really is very different.

How are Google+ Communities different from Facebook Groups

  • The big difference is that on Google+ Communities, the discussions can be separated under different categories. Nothing like that exists on Facebook Groups. Actually it resembles the old school forum style discussion groups. Google Groups itself is created on similar lines, so maybe they are leaving room for more integration in the future.
  • The privacy model is very similar to Facebook groups. It allows Private communities, public communities where all posts are public and finally hidden communities which are not indexed publicly.
  • Hangouts can also be held between community members. This is going to be a big deal for DIY (Do it yourself) communities. Unfortunately on Facebook groups, only text chatting works.

Facebook has a very irritating feature that allows users to add their friends without permission to a group. I was not able to check if Google+ had omitted this one as Google+ Communities is not available on my account as yet.

Google+ Communities Video

Google+ is a place were we search for things based on interest, while on Facebook it is a lot more about searching for people we know. This could really give Google+ a lot of great traction as communities are perfect for finding like minded people instead of just people you know.

Has your Google+ account got the Communities feature? Do drop in your first impressions in your comments.

(via Google Blog)

Share Your Google Drive Files Directly on Google+

Since Google Drive was launched earlier this year, I use it a lot of creating and sharing documents. I even use it to store photos, slideshow presentations and home videos. Since today, users can share their files from Google Drive directly to their Google+ accounts and others can view these files directly from their Google+ feeds.

How it works:

  • Choose a file from your Google Drive account. Now click on share option for the file.
  • It will allow users options to share the file using various platforms like Gmail, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. If you select Google+, others can directly look at the content of your file from Google+ itself. That means, users do not have to leave Google+ or download the file separately.
  • So basically if I was sharing my birthday video with some Google+ friends, I can simply share the link into my Google+ profile and friends can steam the video from their feed directly.

This was needed mainly as Google+ can also double up as an internal social network for app accounts. So sharing files with many collaborators can be very useful.

It is a great time for cloud storage and sync users as Dropbox has also pushed through a lot of new features like video streaming on Android phones and with Windows 8 leveraging SkyDrive expect a lot more from Microsoft too.

Which one of the cloud sync and storage services do you use? Do drop in your comments.

Google+ has 100 million Monthly Active Users

Google+ might not be as popular as Facebook and without previous data about daily active users, it was difficult to really claim it was successful. But today, according to Vic Gundotra (Senior Vice President, Engineering) of Google has revealed that Google+ has over 100 million active monthly users.

Google+ might have 100 million monthly active users but Facebook supposedly has over 900 million. What is more impressive about Facebook, is that it has over 500 million daily active users.

That said, Facebook is over 8 years old, while Google+ is just a year old.

What could be driving growth for Google+?

  • More and more people will keep visiting Google+, as the notifications show up on Gmail.
  • A host of Android users might be switching on saving photos to Google+ automatically. I use it often to create galleries of personal photos. I think a lot of people are not comfortable sharing their personal photos on Facebook because of its reputation with privacy (rather lack of it).
  • Google+ is a lot like Twitter, in the sense it seems a place to share public posts. That means these public URLS can be shared on other social networks and I see a lot of cross posting taking place. That might also be getting more people involved with Google+.

Google+ has become one of my favourite social networking websites. I also have seen a marked increase in my own activity and also the people I interact with.

That increase in activity sometimes can invite spammers and here is a quick guide on how to get complete control over who can send you notifications on Google+.

Do you think Google+ will ever challenge Facebook? Do drop in your comments.

How to Control Who Sends You Notifications on Google+

I have started using Google+  over the past couple of months and have come across some instances when people who have added me to their circles sending sharing a post and notifying me. A lot of them unfortunately can be marketing posts, which can be irritating.

I decided to look up some tweaks in Google+ settings to reduce the notifications I get from people.

How it works:

  • Look up your privacy options for Google plus by visiting google.com/settings/plus.
  • Now you can choose exactly who can send you notifications. I have chosen “Extended Circles” but you can customize your choice and limit it to a particular circle of contacts or even just one single contact on Google+.
Google Plus Notifications Settings
  • Finally, in case if the offender is from within your “Circles” and you cannot remove them or stop following them, then you can mute all posts notifications from them manually.
  • Just visit their profile on Google plus and at the end of the right hand column, you will get the option of muting that particular user. This will stop all notifications appearing from that person but you will be still able to read their posts.

Hope this helps you get rid of any unwanted notifications from Google+.

Do drop in your comments.

Narendra Modi on Google+ Hangout: Indian Politics Just Got More Social

Google+ might not be getting a lot of buzz but its Hangout feature is being increasingly adopted. So it is not very surprising, that Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi will be on a Google+ Hangout session which will be available  on YouTube Live.

Google+ Hangouts is not new to politicians using it for interactive sessions. One of the most famous examples has been of the US President Barack Obama, answering questions from people on a live Hangout session.

Narendra Modi on Google+ Hangout

A Hangout session will be held and shown live on Youtube with some participants, who will ask him questions on various topics.

The questions have to be submitted in the comments section on this post. The best questions will be selected and the winners will be able to ask the politician their questions themselves. Last date to submit questions is 27th August midnight.

The live Hangout session will take place on 31st August 2012, 20.00 hrs IST. You can view the Google+ event page for the Hangout session here.

Politicians love/hate relationship with social media

Social media has been lately, gathering a lot of adoption from politicians around the world. Most world leaders do have some sort of presence on some social media website or the other.

Even some Indian politicians have been active on social networks, especially Twitter. But not all politicians are fond of social media, especially whenever there is a lot of criticism of politicians or their policies.

Link: Narendra Modi on Google+ Hangouts

Google+ to Give Custom URL To Verified Users

In many ways, Google+ has steadfastly built a sort of Facebook clone but with a much better design. It has consistently added features likes verified profiles and pages, pages for brands and businesses and Google+ Events. One place where Facebook rules is its ability to allow brands to interact with fans. Many companies so much as do not point to their official domain URLs but to their Facebook pages for better interaction.

Google+ has decided to start rolling out vanity URLs for some users. This will help users share vanity URLs like “google.com/+toyota” instead of long winding “plus.google.com/110937137992985950150/posts”.

In post by Google employee, Saurabh Sharma announced that the new vanity URLs will be rolled out to only verified users.

A big deal for brands!

Brand managers who own Google+ pages will be very interested in getting their pages a vanity URL. Vanity URL might become crucial for brand managers, especially if these end up being search keywords for popular brands.

Verified users getting first crack at vanity URLs is a sensible idea from a Google perspective, as it means the really famous people and brands get first crack at it. It also means most fake profiles will not be able to get vanity URLs, like it has been the case on Twitter.

But wait, I am not a verified Google+ users but I have a real account nevertheless. Facebook had a better model, where a particular page required a certain number of “Likes” before being allowed to create a custom domain. For Facebook profiles too, users could create custom URLs, but verifying themselves via a text message from their mobile phone.

Facebook has been criticised for having the user-name and custom profile URL being the same, which allows potential hackers from easily guessing your Facebook’s Login ID. Hopefully Google+ is more sensible otherwise, email IDs might end up being leaked inadvertently.

Bonus Tip!

I found some clever (but not official) ways to have vanity URLs for Google plus accounts. One method is to use a customized URL shortener like GPlus to. If you own your own domain, you can also create customized URLs like plus.example.com or fb.example.com and re-direct these URLs to the respective social profiles.

What are your views on custom URLs for Google+ accounts? Do drop in your comments.

Hangouts for Gmail Users: Smartest Move for Google+

A lot my friends from the blogosphere consider Google+ a flop show. But despite the flop status, it enjoys a very popular service called Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts allows users to video chat with many users at the same time. Hangouts are popular on tablets and even mobile phones.

Google has announced that Hangouts for Gmail users. The roll-out should happen over the next few days.

Hangouts on Gmail

Google’s Smartest Move

It can be argued that Gmail is Google’s most successful social product. It is used extensively for video and voice chat. I use Gmail’s chat more often and regularly than Google+ to keep in touch with my friends.

Hangouts on Gmail, is a subtle way to get Gmail users get hooked to Google+.

It means you can now video chat with friends who are using a mobile phone or tablet and using the Google+ App even if you are using Gmail on your computer.

Google+ Hangouts has largely been seen as a fun product but it can be very a crucial product for offices, especially if they are on Google Apps. With Hangout Apps users can share desktop screens or work on a Google Doc while collaborating in teams.

With Hangouts being made available with Gmail, expect it to turn the heat up on Skype.

Do you think Hangouts for all Gmail users will give Google+ a boost? Do drop in your comments.

Birthday Notifications Arrive on Google+

It looks like Google+ is rolling out Birthday notifications. This morning as I logged into my Google+ account, I was shown a pop-up to confirm if my birth date should be shared with my circles, so that they can wish me on my birthday.

Birthday Notifications Google+

With the recent introduction of Google+ Events, it was expected that it will try to replicate birthday notifications feature, which is very popular on arch rival Facebook.

Birthday Notifications are vital for emotional connect

Honestly at the price of looking vain, it is quite flattering to see my Facebook friends fill up my Facebook wall with their wishes on my birthday. But if you have more over 300 friends on Facebook, these wall posts get a little overwhelming. I truly wish Facebook makes things a little more organized and maybe with their new Events revamp they will do so.

This sort of problem of your wall being full of birthday wishes will not happen on Google+, as there is no wall as such. People can tag users on their posts but not leave out posts on the profile page itself. I am really curious to see how Google+ leverages birthday notifications, especially since it has a very popular service called Google Calendar.

More importantly birthday notifications create a sort of emotional connect and is also gives a happy reason for people to keep in touch. This ‘keeping in touch’ activity is very important for social products to bloom.

Thanks to @Razarahil for the tip.

Do drop in your comments.

Facebook Scores Lowest in User Satisfaction: Google+ Scores Highest

According to The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) Facebook users are most unhappy with their service in the social media industry. On the other hand their biggest competitors Google+ score highest from their users.

Facebook has 61% of its users satisfied with the service in 2012. That number has dropped by 5% from 2011. Google+ in far ahead with 78% of it’s users satisfied.

Social Media Customer Satisfaction

Credit: ASCI Report

Why Facebook scores low?

The fact that Facebook users are dissatisfied in growing numbers with the social network is not surprising. I use Facebook because a lot of my friends are on it and not because I find the experience enjoyable.

I use an Android phone and the Facebook app on Android is absolutely poor. I cannot even share someone else’s post through it. I cannot delete a comment on a post I share either.

Facebook messages is stuck between trying to be a chat and email service. Unfortunately it does not do great on both fronts.

Finally, last year Facebook rolled out their Timeline layout. This shows posts shared in two columns along with a ticker that continuously shows other peoples updates in real-time.

The two columns do not render images as well as the previous layout did. The ticker cannot be turned off either.

Facebook is still used by millions everyday but increasingly its only advantage seems to be its vast number of users rather than interesting and useful features.

Do you use Facebook? Are you happy with it as a service? Do drop in your comments.

How to Transfer Google+ Circles from One Account to Another

If you have ever wanted to transfer your Google+ circles between multiple Google accounts, good news! Google Takeout now lets you do just that. Google Takeout was a service released to let you download all your data stored in your Google account – that includes Picasa albums, Contacts, Docs, +1’s and much more.

Google Takeout

Transfer Your Google+ Circles

  • To transfer Google+ circles between two Google accounts, go to Google Takeout.
  • Click on the link below the ‘Circles’ icon, as shown in the image above.
  • You’ll be asked to login into your Google account once again, this is your ‘source’ account.
  • After that you’ll be asked to sign in to your ‘destination’ account too, that’s where your Circles will land on.

Google says, it will take over 48 hours for the whole process to complete and both of your Google accounts’ functionality will be limited during this time period (you won’t be able to post to Google+ or add new friends into your Circles). Also, the process will be initiated in 7 days after you request it. Keep in mind that the process cannot be undone.

After the process gets finished, all your following and followers count will be preserved.

While Facebook and Google allow you to download all your data through their website. Twitter does not and they should be introducing such feature.

Link: Google Takeout