Google+ vs Facebook: 10 reasons why Google+ is far better

As PCWorld rightly pointed sometime out last year, the comparison of Google+ vs Facebook (which the masses generally draw) is an uneven one. Google+ is a far bigger picture for Google than one might imagine: my own way of putting it, as I have said to many of my acquaintances, is that Google is on its way to becoming a Skynet, although in a good way as things now stand.

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This is part 1 of a 4-part article series on Google+. Read the others here:

For Google as a corporation, the Google+ Project is a landmark venture where they aim to bring together all their products, most of them the best in their niche, to make each thrive on the other and deliver an infinitely better user experience, centering on a users–you guessed it–Google+ profile.

Therefore a better way to put the tie would be, Google versus Facebook. Google+ simply isn’t one product anymore. In my opinion, it is quite ready to take on the Google Search robe as the corporation’s face on the Web. And the project has seamlessly integrated all Google products to such an extent, Google+, with respect to a given user, is really all of Google.

So let us see ten unique places I have spotted, over my stay on Google+ (and since I bid goodbye to Facebook quite a while ago,) where Google fares better enough than Facebook to convince anybody to switching to it. Personally, though, I recommend people not to switch: right now, only select people who share posts worth others’ while are populating Google+ ((Statistics show 1. most of these are male 2. most are professionally oriented people 3. the users appear to have unanimously maintained a formal ambience around Google+ 4. there is less than even a fraction of the nonsense, cat jokes floating around on Facebook. If asked to put it bluntly, I think I would say, “Google+ is the Facebook for matured people.”))and we do not want this becoming just another Facebook.

Without further ado, let us go through the ten key aspects I have in mind.

1. Google retains your privacy

I recall somebody once saying Zuckerberg (deserves a bravery award because he) values his privacy more than yours.

Facebook has a habit of compulsorily requiring you to make certain sensitive data of yours publicly visible. Google+ has no such strings attached. In fact, all Google requires you to adhere to strictly is that you do not pose as somebody you are not. Understandably, going against this rule will get you banned from all Google products, but I think it is a good thing considering that it will filter out those characteristic Facebook posters (who were probably once characteristic MySpace posters) who waste your time, right at the start.

In short, though, Google+ is designed to allow you to retain absolute control of your privacy at every point of usage, with both specific settings and general preferences.

2. You can say bye with a snap of your finger

No, really. If you have ever tried deleting your Facebook account, you will know exactly what  mean. It is impossible to fully delete your posts and updates. And pictures. And notes. And sensitive/embarrassing talk if any.

On Google+ you can use their Data Liberation tool to download all your data, pack up and leave Google+ without a public trace. And when I say all, I mean absolutely everything: your videos, Picasa web albums, shares/updates, contacts and anything else you can think of.

If you have not done it already, I strongly urge you to try deleting your Facebook account. Do not worry accidentally deleting it; you cannot delete in even on purpose.

3.  Better group activities

If there is one Google+ feature (apart from photo sharing) that beats every other social network hands down, it has to be Hangouts.

Have you seen what Google did with that poor web camera you get fit into your laptop? I have been invited to roughly thirty hangouts so far (not public hangouts, specific invite-only hangouts) and the interaction is just perfect. I will not be surprised if Facebook comes up with a counterpart, but given the present assets, it would not be hard to guess whose would be better–and who has a head start?

4. Professional setting on Google+

If LinkedIn spelled formal and professional social networking up to this point, I am beginning to feel Google+ will take over now.

Your profile on Google+ is slick, smooth, minimalist and you are in enough control to take out specific things and entirely hide unnecessary stuff. This, coupled with the fact that Google+ has a smaller user base of select individuals, makes way for recognition, good business exposure, personal/freelance popularity and so on.

If you have not begun to do so already, I recommend you harness the true power of Google+ in this regard.

5. Integration within the Web

Some may consider this to be the most important point so far, but I think fifth is where it should stand: but, yes, it is both important and vital.

When I was invited to try Google+ before it was released to the public, I had already begun using Google’s black bar on top without realising others I knew did not really have it on their accounts! The bar was a tad different then, but the concept remained quite the same even after development: to make your network accessible from any Google product at any time.

The way I see it, this would be over half our time on the Web. Consider Google Search, Picasa, Google+, Analytics, GMail, YouTube and any of the several other Google products you can think of. The slim black bar lets you connect to most of these–with specific focus on Google+–from any other product website.

6. Better network management

One thing I used to despise on Facebook was the way people there had (and probably still have) hundreds of so-called friends. If you  cannot recount the name of every single one of them, you might as well not add them. Friend requests and status updates were making and breaking jobs and relations–too much hold for a robotic binary programme, don’t you think?

On Google+ you can neatly organise your network into any number of categories, call it anything you want and share specifically, without wasting the precious time of those who do not give a damn about that particular update of yours.

This also nullifies my previous question, just in case you are still wondering. Google’s Circles is arguably their finest concept, mirroring daily life: how we make different circles of friends, meet and talk and share differently with each of them and so on. And Google+ allows you to bring that priceless habit onto your second life on the Web.

It adheres to the age old formula: replicate real life for the best results!

7. Better (best?) mobile application

Whether it be iPhone or Android or any other second-tier mobile OS, you have a Google+ application that stamps the rest to the ground.

Unfortunately, I got my Google+ Android app only a week before its public release and I did not have enough special time to appreciate its numerous, rich features fully. Over time, however, there are some things you will notice ((I only speak for Android phones, because I have never used Google+ on any other OS and have little intentions of doing so in the future)).

Given that Android is also a Google product, the commenting, updating and other such features subtly integrate themselves into the design of the OS and make accessing Google+ a breeze unlike Facebook’s app, or instance, which requires you to access the homescreen repeatedly, for a lot of reasons.

8. Easy to search within Google+

Google’s third much hyped feature is Sparks. I hardly took notice of it before public release–and I doubt anybody else did–but the true power of Sparks became apparent only much later when a good lot of content had been shared. It was like a small, but equally intense, Google Search stitched into Google+ that allowed you to search your network with great ease.

While it is clear that Google’s previous stand as a search engine played a major role in this, what is more important is that this feature, which seems all so obvious now, had been overlooked in every other social network prior to Google+; and in my opinion, none–even if they do appear at a later point of time–will be in a position to beat Google’s Sparks simply because of Google’s leverage in the searching world online.

9. Better photo sharing and tagging

It is by no means an overstatement to say Google+ is the new photographer’s paradise. There was (still is) 500px, Flickr and so on, but Google’s policy, Picasa integration, tagging technology, viewing–and the elephantine photographer count that exists here–seems to have beat them all in one sweep.

I know many photographers who are leaving other sites slowly but confidently to back-file their entire work to Google+. As for tagging people, when I was on Facebook, many months ago, I kept stressing on a particular clause in their terms of use that said nobody could tag a user without their consent. But (rather intelligently) Facebook made no attempt to stop such tagging and it annoyed me severely. On Google+, however, tagging a person notifies them and the tag appears only if they concur. So that is bidding goodbye to childish tagging in unrelated and/or compromising photographs that Facebook came to be known for even if not quite publicly.

10. Google listens to you

That is right. Google values user feedback more than any other multinational corporation I have come across.

Know that little grey box that says Send Feedback on the bottom right? It is quite generally known that the only people who value feedback enough to actually change their site are those who run personal websites, blogs and such. But Google has taken things in good spirit, and that feedback form is actually more advanced than it seems at first.

You are allowed to highlight parts of the page where you plan to give suggestions, point out to errors etc. as well as black out any personal information you wish to keep hidden. Then you type in your suggestion and send it to Google.

Will anything happen? Trust me, they actually listen to you. As I said before, this might not exactly be what one would expect from a company the size of Google but there have been suggestions I have myself made and a number of them I have seconded or chipped into and these have actually been adopted as changes in Google+

It is fun to see your suggestion has been valued and things have been changed for the better. This also keeps with Google’s open-source spirit and makes the network one that is run by its users rather than an unseen body. Good uses people have been making of the feedback box is requesting for slight alterations to the existing Google+ terms of usage and there have been multiple records where Google has brought out changes.

This flexibility is by far the best reason–from a user satisfaction standpoint–to switch to Google+ and dump Facebook for good.

I am not in any way associated with Google or Facebook, and this review has been from a neutral standpoint. Clearly, I state that the scale tips in favour of Google as my list clarifies!

Before you leave, do not forget to join me on Google+ and circle VHBelvadi.com too!

Top blogging niches — a commentary

While on one of my strolls through the Internet I came across an article that boldly claimed to state the top three blogging niches. It began with a declaration and a flaw: that when one is starting a blog, he must chose a profitable blogging topic.

The declaration is pretty straightforward—in fact it is pretty and straightforward—but it could not have been more vague. While the idea of evergreen is fairly obvious, what does it mean to be profitable? A blog that showcases the talents of the writer? A blog that gives great substance, no matter how small the article itself? Or a blog that is a mint for its owner?

Profitable Blogging

Profitable blogging is a funny thing. Indeed, now that I think of it, the very word profit sounds out-of-place when it is in the same sentence as blogging. First of all, it goes against the spirit of blogging, making it seem business-like.

The idea here is that blogging was born with the spirit to be useful (or profitable if you will) to both parties involved: the blogger and their reader. It was to introduce a new form of literature, a cross between reporting and spewing out opinions. Journalism of sorts. This meant the reader, one, could be informed; two, could be entertained; and three, their thoughts could be provoked.

With time, this took on a new form. Blogs could be used to make money. Bloggers (or at least the fellows who called themselves that) sported advertisements, sold products and—worst of the lot—wrote articles reviewing products on what I call a pay-to-praise basis.*

So, when one is speaking of profit via blogs, these days society dictates that we blend in all the above meanings into our general understanding. With this in mind, and hoping this is what the author of the original article also had in mind, let us examine his opinion of the reigning blogging topics.

Health and Lifestyle

I always say it is pointless to chose any such thing as a blogging niche before starting a blog. It only makes sense to start blogging, experimenting and seeing with which genre of topics one feels most at home before diving straight into the blogosphere. Even then, one often finds themselves bumping up for air as they realise the genre does not suit them as much as it seemed at first sight.

That said, the top blogging niche allegedly is health and lifestyle. Weight loss, exercise, diet, acne and the likes are listed as possible ventures in this niche. Very well, but would writing articles on such topics not require some basis or qualification? On the funny end, how many readers would vouch for a blogger who is obese because of a few Macs too many? And, on the serious end, how many readers would love to spend even half-an-hour each day listening to exercise tips from an elementary-school mathematics teacher who has been to the ballpark perhaps thrice all his life? (As for his calories, it is believed that working with numbers is a sufficient calorie burner!)

The reader also goes on to say that these topics ought to be updated regularly as new things pop up and stuff keeps changing—or, to quote, because they’re constantly updated. I believe we were discussing evergreen topics? If a topic needs to be updated and re-written/structured on a regular basis, I would hardly categorise that as evergreen. Or maybe it is just me?

Relationships

All like-minded people out there, reading this, need to be prepared to be quite disappointed. The word relationships here does not refer to elementary or mathematical relationships (sadly,) rather to the human emotions/parenting/dating/conflicts etc. that I seem to be oddly alien to. Apparently they exist and the author suggests them as good contenders for a profit from your blog.

These relationships that have been around—and I quote—as long as humans have been around, are worth writing about. The author says such topics are evergreen as people will always want to improve their relationships in their lives.

I believe I have insufficient grounds to further comment on this topic, so I shall stop here. Now again, perhaps it is just me, but I believe that a person who looks to the internet to help him in this regard has failed as a human being.

Money and Finance

Speak of (monetary) profit! Apparently, a good way to make money from your blog is to write about it!

The author says that if we could help people get wealthy be writing content that helps people increase their earnings (profit) or reduce their losses (savings) we would earn a significant income online. Those last three words—straight from the original article—make it clear that the profit in this regard is, indeed, monetary.

Now, if we could actually provide people with such content, would we not have used it to get wealthy ourselves without dousing the spirit of blogging in the process—like we would be doing if we actually wrote something like this?

So what is missing?

This naturally brings to one’s mind a question targeted at me: if these do not work, what does? What are the truly reigning topics?

My short answer would be, the mob is fickle minded.

Now, we can sort out blogging based on the nature of the posts rather than the nature of the content. I shall expand on that, if I have not been clear already. My own list of three evergreen blogging posts would be (based, as I said, on the nature of the writing) opinionated, factual/reporting and pictorial.

Opinionated

Opinionated writing is always a welcome read. The same monotonous set of sentences have probably already been spoken a hundred times in a hundred different ways. Can you give your readers a different perspective on that? Can you write something thought-provoking? In short, can your writing be dubbed as different with sufficient grounds? An introduction to the current state of things sprinkled with the bloggers own opinion will make way for a worthy read, time well spent and possibly a healthy discussion.

Factual blogging/Reporting

Reporting/Factual articles are truly evergreen. However, there is a little catch here: what really is a fact? It is important to understand that not all researched and declared statements are facts if either their results are open-ended or leave room for doubt. In these cases, our scenario would be like that of the health and lifestyle niche above.

A fact would be saying an average human has 32 teeth. It is safe to say that so long as we do not evolve into an altogether new species overnight, the fact stands. However, one can run out of facts.

Reporting is a good alternate route along the same lines. However, note that reporting is not an entirely advisable option because, let us face it, newspapers are far more trusted, and have more reasonable stances, than bloggers. And you cannot possibly write anything that some media-source has not already reported, especially considering the fact that the blogger’s own research material was among these sources of mass media!

The only situation when reporting/blogging is a good idea is when you are a local and you personally visited the site/were at the incident you are reporting about and it is something the rest of the world would want to read about.

It is therefore a valid conclusion that this second idea is not as good as the first. Factual blogging or journalism-via-blogging is a good once-in-a-while option and it ends at that.

Photoblogging

The last one is photography as I stated above, or, to use the right jargon, photoblogging. This, again, is quite a narrow stream if your photograpy skills are not at least easy on  the eyes. While it is surprising how many people underestimate their camera skills, even if only with a point-and-shoot digital camera, it is also surprising how many overestimate it.

If you are camera happy and truly believe the world will want to see what you see through the view-finder, it would be a good idea to put up at least one picture a day and run a successful blog, sans words!

And by successful I mean a blog with a large readership and one which allows the blogger to express himself without strings attached.

My opinion

You can skip this section without weighing down on your conscience because everything I say here is biased.

I would love to see a period when science—especially physics—becomes a raging blogging niche. I frequently explore the annals of physics here, often writing to popularise it and at times to reproduce something new I have learned simply so that I can come back and explain it to myself—because nobody can explain to oneself better than themselves! Science is something that intreagues every human—although I am acquainted with a few who outrightly lay false claims that it does not. As humans we question just as easily—and unknowingly—as we breathe, and, science being the answer to everything, an occasional blog article in science—and this is the voice of experience speaking—throws up readership like nothing else possibly could!

So what are your ideas of everygreen blogging topics? Do you believe in my varied approach via the nature of writing? Or do you have another explanation altogether? Share it below!

 

 


*In my own opinion, perhaps the one, unadulterated, place where blogging—although a relatively new idea, at 17 years young—has unarguably achieved is the lack of gender bias. While other streams are apparently approaching an increasing loss of the male-dominance-psychology, blogging, for some reason never took that gender-bias foundation. To some extent, I think this is because early blogs did not carry the images of the authors; and—owing to the lack of both sexist language, and the need to mention the blogger’s name anywhere—the writing itself could not possibly help identify the writer’s gender, unless specifically mentioned.