30 Days With Google+: Day 26
I have spent most of the 30 Days With Google+ series examining Google+ on its own merits as much as possible. When all is said and done, though, Google+ is a social network competing with other social networks, so I would be remiss if I didn't spend some time comparing and contrasting them. So, today I am going to examine how Google+ matches up with Twitter.
Google+ and Twitter are very different social networks, yet they are still alike in some ways. Google has managed to roll aspects of both a Twitter-style social network and a Facebook-style social network into one.
How They're Alike
Both Google+ and Twitter enable a form of virtual stalking called "following". Basically, I can add people to follow who are not really a part of my social network at all, but whose updates and comments are of interest to me. For example, on Twitter I follow accounts like @BillGates and @BarackObama although I am quite sure they are not reciprocating.
The same scenario is possible in Google+. In fact, "Following" is one of the default Circles in Google+ that was there before I even started building my social network. This Circle is specifically intended as a placeholder for users I want to follow, but who I don't necessarily want in any of the more intimate Circles of my Google+ network.
So, on Google+ I have people like +Mark Zuckerberg and +Sergey Brin in my "Following" Circle. Likewise, I only have 129 people in my Circles on Google+, but there are 929 people who have me in Circles. That means there are 800 people who I may or may not know who are ostensibly interested in what I share with the Public even though they are not in my social network per se.
The benefit of this set up is that it provides a platform for broadcasting information and sharing with a much wider audience that goes beyond just family and close friends. Contrast that with Facebook, where I either must add someone as a "Friend" into my social network, or set up a separate Facebook Page that lets strangers stay informed without being in my network, but that requires me to maintain two separate Facebook personas.
How They're Different
While both Google+ and Twitter allow anonymous others to follow someone that isn't really part of their social network, there are some significant differences as well. Specifically, I have noted differences in length, privacy, and audience.
• Length. Twitter is infamous for its 140-character max. That includes the names of any Twitter users I want to specifically direct the message to, the spaces between the words, and any URLs I might link to. 140 characters does not go very far.
The limitation of only having 140 characters to work with has led to an explosion of URL-shortening services like TinyURL and Bit.ly, and to very creative adaptations of the English language in order to shorten things to accommodate the restriction.