It may be because of the field I’m in, or it may simply be the best word-of-mouth advertising I’ve seen in awhile, but if I had dime for every time a friend, colleague or acquaintance asked me if I was on Google+, well, I wouldn’t be rich (darn inflation), but I would be walking around with a lot of change in my pockets.

Have you heard about Google+? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t, due to the fact that Google hasn’t marketed Google+ through any of its other channels or services. But it’s important to understand this platform and its functionality. That’s why we’ve created this Google+ breakdown:

  1. Circles. The first thing you are likely to interact with on Google+ will be a feature called “Circles.” The Circles feature will allow you to create and manage groups such as family, friends, business contacts, etc. and organize your connections on Google+. Claiming that the Circles feature is much easier to operate and manage than other social networking platforms, Google also claims that it will increase sharing ability and be more realistic.
  2. Sparks. According to Google+ developers, the Sparks feature isn’t a search engine, it’s a “sharing engine.” Much like an RSS feed, after adding your interests to Sparks, you will automatically receive a feed of relevant information from across the Internet. You can also store photos and videos as well as share any content you deem necessary to your Google+ connections.
  3. Hangouts. Hangouts are essentially group video chat zones within your Circles. If any individual within a given Circle is in a Hangout, you’ll receive an alert and the ability to join the Hangout and video chat with everyone there. What’s cool is that the Google+ system is smart enough to focus on who is controlling the conversation at any given moment.
  4. Huddle. A group messaging app that works across SMS, Android and iPhone platforms, Huddle allows you to communicate with the connections in specific Circles. For example, if a group of friends within one of your Circles is planning a dinner, you can each contribute to the conversation via messaging on Google+’s Huddle feature.

Other notable features:

  • Mobile. Google+ claims they’ve personalized the mobile experience by adding features like GPS, cameras and messaging.
  • Location. Add your location to any post.
  • Instant upload. Each time you snap a photo, Google+ will add it to a private album for easier accessibility.
  • +1. Very much like the Facebook “Like” button.
  • Privacy. Unlike the majority of other social networks out there, Google+’s default settings automatically opt out the user from public access.

While the new platform may be like honey for the tech-savvy bee, it could yield negative effects for those who are already overwhelmed by too much media and technology.

Much of the anticipation and hype surrounding Google+ is simply a result of the “super secret” development and slow, invitation-only launch to the public. Scarcity is a great marketing technique and has worked for them in the past with the invite-only release of Gmail.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website at www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.