1. No limit. I’ll admit I can get a bit wordy at times (settle down–that’s enough out of you), but it is very annoying to type out a status update and have it rejected because it exceeds some arbitrary character limit.
Twitter is Twitter, and its 140-character limit is one of its defining characteristics. I get it. But, on Facebook the status update character limit was 420, and was just recently bumped up to 500. The new limit is much better than the old one–I find that most of my status updates can fit in 500 characters. But, 500 is still arbitrary, and I still exceed it.
I love that on Google+ I can type indefinitely if I choose and there is no limit to the length of my posts. In fact, I see a number of people who have Tumblr blogs and then post links from Google+, and I wonder if it wouldn’t make more sense to drop Tumblr and just use Google+ as the blogging platform in the first place.
2. Edit Posts. Another nice thing about Google+ is that I can edit my posts. Even after I have finished my thought and posted it, I often discover typos or error in grammar that I’d like to correct, or I may have another thought that I would like to add. It is nice that Google+ lets me simply click on the little drop-down arrow at the upper right of the post and click “Edit this post” to make changes.
With Facebook, there is about a 15-second (maybe shorter) “oh shit!” window where I can delete a post or comment after I enter it and Facebook will recognize that I want to take back what I said and will allow me to edit it. After that window is up, though, I have to delete the post and start over.
On a semi-related editing note, I can also hit enter to insert carriage returns and create paragraphs in Google+ rather than having to hit Shift-Enter or end up accidentally posting prematurely.
3. Following. I like being able to follow the streams of others who may not necessarily be part of my social network, and the fact that others who are not in my social network can follow me. It is a great way to stay informed and learn interesting new things–many of which I, in turn, share with those who are following me.
Of course, it only has value if the person actually posts things to Public. Mark Zuckerberg may be posting 100 times a day, but he has yet to share anything with Public, so as far as I can tell he just doesn’t use Google+. There seems to be little value in following Mark Zuckerberg, yet I–and nearly 500,000 others on Google+–continue to follow and hold out hope that we will one day grace us with some wit and wisdom.
4. Public. A fringe benefit of Following in Google+ is that it makes sharing posts with Public one of the best things about the social network. I realize this violates the premise of Circles and the alleged awesomeness of being able to direct posts to segregated audiences, but hey–I can do that too, right?
When I share things only with my Family or Friends Circles, I limit the discussion and close myself off from more engaging debate, and maybe learning a thing or two. I like that when I post something to Public it can be seen by the 2,000 or so who have me in their Circles, anyone that might see it get reshared by one of those 2,000, and by anyone on Google+ who just happens to search for it.
It is one of the things that I think makes Google+ a more engaging and active social network. I get a fair amount of +1s, comments, and reshares of my posts on Google+, and almost none of them are by people who are actually in my Circles.
5. Circles. If you have followed along all 30 days, you know that I am not an advocate of the Circles. I am not opposed to them per se. I just don’t think they are the privacy silver bullet that some make them out to be, and I think they introduce a whole different set of privacy concerns to worry about.
So, why did Circles make my top five favorite things? I don’t like Circles for segregating the posts I share on Google+, but I think Circles are brilliant for helping me to sort through the hundreds and thousands of incoming posts.
Facebook lets me do this as well with Lists. I have used Lists on Facebook for quite some time to let me skim just the status updates from my family, or just the status updates from my closest friends. For the most part, the Circles concept is not any different than the Facebook lists. The main difference is that Google+ makes it easier to set up, and more simple and intuitive to choose which Circle I want to see the stream from.