When I click on the box at the top of the Google+ stream, it expands to become a larger text entry box for me to share my thoughts. At the bottom right of the text entry box there are four icons to let me also add photos, videos, URLs, or geolocation information to the post.
One of the first things I noticed–and appreciated–about Google+ is the fact that there is no maximum length for the status update. Actually, I assume there is some maximum, but whatever it is it is longer than I need it seems. Twitter limits me to 140 character blurbs.
Facebook maxes at 420 character messages. Frequently, I find my thoughts running in the 500 character range, which is frustrating on Facebook because then I have to go back and edit my thoughts to fit the arbitrary maximum set by Facebook. Why 420? Why not 450, or 500? When I really have a lot to say and can’t squeeze it down to 420 characters, I end up posting the initial message, then commenting on my own post to finish my thought.
When it comes to sharing photos, I like that Google+ loads the image when it is selected so I can verify that I chose the right image, and have an opportunity to see how it will be displayed before posting it to Google+. It also gives mean opportunity to edit the photo (rotating it to fix orientation issues), or add a caption, and lets me add additional photos before posting as well.
It is nice that Google+ lets you add geolocation data from the website. Some social networks (I’m looking at you Facebook) only let you do that from the mobile app. Just because I am using a notebook, or an iPad doesn’t mean I can’t be roaming about and might want to check-in or share location data with my social network.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of a Google+ status update post, though, is the area underneath the text entry box with the text “+Add circles or people to share with…”. Just as Google+ forces me to make conscious decisions about my online relationships and segregate my social network into Circles, it also requires that I put some additional effort into defining who should get to see a given post.
Clicking on this box, I have the option to make the status update (or photo, or video, or URL, or geolocation data) visible to all of my Circles, or to my Extended Circles–which includes all of my Circles, and all of their Circles as well, or to just make the information Public so that anyone on Google+ who has me in a Circle at all can see it.
I can also choose individual Circles. For example, if it is a picture of my son’s birthday party, I can choose to only share that with my “Family” Circle. If it is a link to the website for a bar where a bunch of us are going for a beer after work, I can just share that with my “Co-Workers” Circle. Or, if I am sharing something about a vacation I am planning, I could choose to share that with a couple different Circles, like “Family” and “Close Friends”.
One thing I discovered, though, is that Google+ will automatically pre-populate that field with whichever choice I used previously. So, I need to be careful because if my last post was shared with “Family” and I want this post shared with “Close Friends”, but not “Family” I need to make sure I remove “Family” from that field. The Circles that the post will be shared with are very prominent and clear, so it really shouldn’t be a problem to see which Circles are included and remove unwanted ones before posting.
As an avid Twitter and Facebook user, I find a lot to like about posting information on Google+. At face value at least, there are some benefits to the Google+ approach that make it easier to share information, and enable me to easily share only with those Circles that I really want to see the information.