A couple of months ago, I wrote about social networking and how it affects the budding author. You can read that post here
One of my complaints with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter was the inability to separate writing from normal life without having two separate identities. For instance, if you want to post a writing milestone or your word count, do you really want Aunt Ruth or that high school friend to know about it? Or if your three-year old just washed his hands in the toilet, do you want to make that information available to agents, publishers, or whoever else accepted your friend request in the writing community? Up until a week ago I had to use Facebook for friends and family and Twitter for my writing connections. But now I’ve found something that can completely replace both networks quite smoothly: Google+.
You’ve got to love Google. It’s a smart company. They wait in the wings while others push their “new” services then swoop in later and offer the best of everything their competitors do, but without the bad. I’ve seen them do this with email, phones, and now with social networking. Here is why I LOVE Google+. It’s basically a mixture of Twitter and Facebook, but with customization options that make a writer’s life much easier. The stream is set up like Facebook as opposed to Twitter. Why is this good? Um, because I hate Twitter’s feed. Besides the hashtag annoyances, the retweets, the cryptic names, and the limited characters, you read miscellaneous comments, which when taken out of context, make absolutely no sense. It’s like I’m reading parts of conversations here and there that mean nothing to me; a bunch of gobbly goop. With Facebook, you see the main comment, then all the responding comments lined up nice and orderly beneath so you can get a complete sense of the “conversation.” Thank you, Google, for choosing this format. *forehead swipe*
The next part, though, is a huge improvement on both Twitter and Facebook. It’s the concept of “circles.” Circles are basically categories which you assign people to. There’s family, friends, and acquaintances. Before you post a comment, you have to select which of these circles you want to see your comment. WOW! What a great idea! So you mean if I don’t want Nathan Bransford to read about my toilet dunking son, but I think Aunt Ruth will get a kick out of it, I can just assign my “family” circle to read it? And if I don’t want Aunt Ruth to see that I’ve written 48,986 words on my MS, but I want my writer friends to, I can assign it to “acquaintances?” Yes siree! No more identity crisis for us writers. I can be Julie the mom, sister, and friend, and Julie the writer all using the same account.
But that’s not all. (I feel like an infomercial here) Google+ also allows you to “follow” people without having them accept your friend request. You just do a search for them, add them to your circle and voila! You can now read their stream. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. How can you read their stream if you’re personally not in their circles? Well, because besides family, friends, and acquaintances, there’s also a “public” option when posting comments. Anything you post under public (which the majority of agents and publishers do) can be read by anyone as soon as they follow them – Twitter-style. As I've noticed recently, you can also read the public streams of any commenters by clicking on their names. You don't even have to add them to a circle. So if I notice someone makes a particularly clever comment on something Nathan Branford says, and I want to read a bit more about that person, I can simply click on their name and read anything they've put out publicly.
And there’s a neat little feature that utilizes your GPS. You can actually connect with people right in your own neighborhood using the “Nearby” screen. Oh, and did I mention how easy the Google+ site is to get to? If you have a gmail account, you’ll notice in the top left-hand corner of the screen it says “You+” (mine says Julie+). You just click it and you’re there – no signing in required. How handy is that? And the IM feature is simply Gtalk, which many of us are familiar with.
There you have it. The best of both worlds, wrapped up in one social networking site. So, when are you coming over? :)