Jarrett Lyon writes:

I know that you’re into Google+ and was wondering if you would be willing explain how to efficiently use the service. I’m pretty well tied into Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, yet have no idea how to use Google+ considering it isn’t as well implemented by my peers.

Good question, Jarrett.

Google PlusGoogle+ is a very different type of social network than Twitter or Facebook. For many of its users, it’s more of a conversational engine than a status-oriented experience. Twitter is most useful to folks who want to share a single link or idea while keeping up with their friends. Facebook is largely used by individuals wishing to connect and stay connected to people they know offline.

Google+ came along and landed somewhere in the middle ground. It’s an excellent platform for sharing visual material such as images and videos (I personally enjoy the animated GIFs) as well as exchange ideas in a more long-form format than Twitter would provide. It borrows heavily from the comment threads in Facebook and added 10-person video teleconferencing that was very well received by early adopters.

Today, Google+ is frequently utilized by news organizations that want to pull together people from all different walks of life to get their take on the news of the day. Likewise, podcasters and content creators have found features like Hangouts On Air to be an exceptional avenue for creating content without having to handle video hosting and management in-house.

Perhaps the best way to really get started in Google+ is to shed any assumptions you might have about how it relates to Twitter or Facebook. It’s something entirely different, and at times it exceeds any other current social platform in terms of direct community engagement and relationship building.

If Twitter is about keeping up, and Facebook is about catching up, then Google+ is about meeting up. It has become a central focus in the Google ecosystem and it’s pretty clear that Google intended to expand on its present features to appeal to a much wider user base as time goes on. Google Docs (now called Google Drive) and YouTube have already merged with the network to a large degree. It’s only a matter of time before Google’s long-term strategy becomes more clear to users.