Putting the PLUS in Google

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Recently, while at the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA – a discussion on wine and technology was moderated by John Meyer who started 9 Clouds, Paul Mabray of Vintank, and Philip James from Lot 18 and Snooth. Part way through the session, which included a lively discussion on flash sale sites like Lot18 and whether harm or help the wine industry, a vibrant discussion (ok fine it was me) erupted about Facebook, Twitter, and various forms of Google.  Currently, the latest hot button platform is Google+.   What is Google+ you ask?  Like it’s predecessors Google Wave and Google Buzz (which are both alive but atrophied), Google+ promises to be the next social media flashmob trigger.  Basically, I call it Twitter on steroids, with a dash of Facebook thrown in for good measure. Essentially, on Google+ you friend up people by adding them to Circles.  Circles are groups of people you are following, and can be defined any way you want.  Social media experts advise creating as many circles as possible, so you can slice and dice your followees and folowers; I might have gone a tad overboard on this but it will shake it self out. Based on your circles, you will have a stream.  Wait, isnt’ that Twitter?  Or Facebook?  Sort of.  The cool thing about Google+ is that you can target your stream, based on circles.  So I can see just my wine circle or just my friend circle in my stream.  This is simliar functionality to twitter lists, but where you get the power of google+ is that you can now target your posts to specific people, and specific circles.  This functionality currently exists in Facebook via Lists, so it’s not news to those of us who like to keep grandma out of my morning rants on The ‘Book. One thing that Google+ is lacking however is the ability to expressly BLOCK peole from reading a post.  This can be helpful if you don’t want someone who might be in a group to see a post.  Say you’re planning a surprise party for Joe, and you want all the Wine Bloggers to plan but dont’ want Joe to know.  you’d hav eto create a new group with everyone except Joe. A feature that that G+ has already proved to add great value and provide content is the Hangout.  This weekend, at the WBC, our illustrious leader Joel Vincent started a Hangout – or group chat room basically – to broadcast WBC news and keynote videos to people not in attendance.  As I was stuck in my room in the depths of some nasty bug, I would have loved to watch via the stream.  It’s my own fault I didn’t know the hangout existed, but bloggers who weren’t’ at WBC were able to watch Eric Asimov’s speech real time, via G+.  Pretty powerful!  Yes you can accomplish this with WebEx or a recorded video, but this allows you to share LIVE data in a real time stream. The only thing that Hangouts don’t do […]