Last week, I had a chance to participate in the #MediaChat twitter chat, hosted by +Aaron Kilby (@kilby76 on twitter). The topic of the night was Google+ and the newly released communities feature. Google+ is a great way to connect with people with similar social and professional interests, but the question of what Google+ communities give you that Facebook or Linkedin Groups don’t is a valid question. So let’s have a look at a few of the differences.
Google+ provides more organization than either FB or Linkedin groups by allowing group moderators the ability to create topics within the group like a traditional forum.
Public communities on Google+ have some posts integrated into your Google+ stream. I’ve seen mixed feelings about this but I like it. It provides a subtle prompt for your to remain active in the community. The risk of out-of-sight, out-of-mind is significantly reduced.
If you use Google+ for networking, odds are you have a much more established base on Linkedin. For example, I’m a member of three CPA groups on Linkedin that have hundreds of members and many are not looking to add “another network” into the mix.
What Google+ has that nobody else has is the Hangouts. Hangouts enhance the depth of an online relationship significantly more than any other social network tool. They give you a quick and easy way to put a face to a name, whether it’s a scheduled event or an impromptu get together. Once you experience this, there’s no going back to regular Twitter chats. That’s not to say that Twitter doesn’t have its place; if you have a vision like +Jessica Northey, you can leverage the best of both worlds by creating your own take on her #Twangout chat/hangouts. Another nice tough with the Hangout feature is that you can create a Hangout within the community itself so that users will see it when they click into the community.
As with any social group, the G+ communities only will be as good as the members that join (read: not constantly spamming the community). In order to help identify the communities that add the most value to their members, I started a List.ly for users to add their favorite communities with a quick explanation, so that finding great communities will be easier for those that are new to the platform or new to the communities.
What do you think? Do FB and Linkedin have any functions that Google+ lacks?