Why All The Fuss About “Google+”?

I absolutely love Google+
As far as social media goes, I’d much rather post there than anywhere, and I hear that same sentiment all the time from other photographers on G+. In fact, I find myself posting there more than anywhere, and in just a few short weeks the number of people of follow me on Google+ blew right past the number of people who follow me on Facebook (and I’ve been posting regularly there for almost two years).

Although Google+ (which had been in a semi-private beta testing period) is only about three months old, the day before yesterday Google+ (G+ for short) opened their doors to the public and now anybody can have a G+ account (it’s free), so today I thought I’d share what I love about Google+, and why I think it’s such an amazing community for photographers. Plus, I’ll give you some great folks to follow on Google+, too!

G+ knows how important photos are to….well….everybody
That’s why when you post an image, it appears much larger—right on your page—- that it does on Facebook or Twitter, and if you click on it, it opens to an even larger view with a black background, and you can easily see the EXIF data on the photo by clicking on the Actions button. It’s a beautiful way to show your images, and once you see it, you immediately understand why photographers like it so much.

It’s easy to find other photographers
When you first join Google+, it recommends people to follow in lots of different categories and that includes a category for photographers. Plus, there are already lots of lists out there leading you to active photographers on G+, so finding people to add to your circles is easy.

How it looks matters to us
I think another one of the things that attracted photographers to G+ is the overall look. The interface looks great, and how things look really matters to creative people. The visual nature of the way you put people in “circles” (kind of like Facebook’s group, only much more visual and easier to use), really attracted me right off the bat, and the whole thing feels very well thought out–very visual—very easy to use.

It’s very much like having your own blog, without the hassle of having your own blog
You can make posts like you would on a blog, and people can comment just like they do. You’re not limited to a certain number of words (like Facebook or Twitter), and if you write a post, and you make a mistake, or want to edit, delete or add something, you can actually do it (without having to start from scratch).

Google+’s Terms of Service don’t punish photographers
They clearly tell you in their Terms of Service—you retain your copyright: “11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” Besides, do you really think Google put this elaborate master plan together just to “steal” your photos? (wink).

Their photo stream is awesome
I’m one click away from seeing lots of amazing photos, presented in a way that make it really conducive to browsing great photography (I feel it does this much more so than Flickr by a long shot).

From a “content creator’s” standpoint, I feel it’s much easier and more flexible than either Twitter or Facebook
It gives you options and features that neither one has, and it’s too much to go into here, but once you start posting there…you’ll see what I mean.

It’s not going to replace Facebook
My friends are on Facebook. My family is on Facebook. Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I’d be worried if I were Twitter. I used to really enjoy Twitter, until I started using G+. I know a lot of folks out there still love Twitter, but G+ gives you lots of freedom whereas Twitter imposes lots of rules. It’s very text-oriented, and text-based. It’s like a Web site of text messages, and sometimes it feels very….well…DOS-based. G+ gives you the freedom everybody says they’re clamoring for. I find myself using Twitter less and less. I’m not alone.

Google+ adds improvements and enhancements almost daily
It’s been around only 90 days, and I just recently read where they have already released more than 100 user-driven improvements and tweaks. What other company is doing that anywhere? Flickr feels like someone has poured a gallon of molasses over it so it never moves. Ever.

I feel like G+ people are more engaged
If I post something to G+, the response is immediate, the numbers are big; it’s engaging, the people are very civil and friendly, and it definitely has a really great vibe.

Great photographers are already there, and they’re posting great stuff
Photographers like Trey Ratcliff, John Paul Caponegro, Frank Doorhof, Catherine Hall, Colby Brown, Robert Scoble, Moose Peterson, Jeremy Cowart, Terry White, Thomas Hawk, Joe McNally, Brian Matiash, and of course all my crew: RC, Brad, Pete, Dave Cross, and Matt Kloskowski. I also follow people like Guy Kawasaki and Leo Laporte who cover everything tech but also have interesting posts on everything!

If you’re new to Google+, make sure you read this:
Colby Brown wrote an essentials guide for photographers new to G+. I read it as soon as I started posting there, and I really found it invaluable. Colby just updated it big time, with all the latest stuff. Once you sign up, read this next (you’ll be glad you did). Here’s the link.

There’s more to G+ than just photography
It’s a new social media platform, so they have everybody from Hollywood Celebrities to scientists to athletes, so it’s attracting everybody (and they are breaking records with the number of people who’ve joined G+ in such a short time), and people who are in those circles may not even realize that photographers are even on there. G+ is big (with 43 million+ users already), and getting bigger every single day. Don’t be the last one to get on board and think, “Man, I should have done this a long time ago.”

I hope you’ll follow me there, too!
Although I still post to my Facebook page and to Twitter, I have to be honest—Google+ has won my heart, and I find myself posting more there, and wanting to post more there, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Here’s where you can follow me on this great community for creative folks…like you:  http://kel.by/onGplus

    1. Hmmm…
      What was not in the article that Scott wrote was Google+’s Privacy Policy, which reads a LOT like the old FB (and others) before people complained:
      “11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.”
      What this means is, any photo you post, they can use in ads in any way they like…
      Sorry, as a pro photographer, no Google+ for me!

  1. I too think G+ is very photographer friendly and have enjoyed following some of the most amazing photographers and Google is kind when it comes to presentation/compression, something facebook should take notice of.
    The only criticism I would have is that it’s become a virtual gallery for many of the photographers, and it seems to divert away from articles and conversation as each photographer vies for attention with their latest and greatest landscape or portrait.

  2. Scott

    I could not agree more. I saw your blog this morning on my feed saw Google was finally open and spent the last 4 hours checking it out. It blows FB and Twitter out of the water. The circle concept to separate people, plus the Hangout feature is going to be great. I agree about the photos, and I think a lot of casual shooters will even move once word gets out, even non shooters like to use FB to post shots of the kids of grandparents etc.

    Now to convince all my FB friends to move across. Shouldnt be too hard with the FB changes twod ays ago, boy do they suck.

  3. I don’t feel like Twitter has anything to worry about at this point. There needs to be a critical mass of photography clients (vs. photographers) migrating to Google+ and leaving Twitter, for it to be worthwhile for photographers to leave Twitter. Twitter and Facebook are important tools for connecting with clients past, present, and future. Google+ needs to become less of a photographers playground and more of a relationship building tool before it can threaten Facebook’s and Twitter’s models. The people we do business with have serous investments in Facebook, and Google+ just doesn’t offer the same functionality or feel at this point.

    Google+ is definitely nice, but Facebook isn’t standing still by any stretch of the imagination.

    1. I agree … while I can appreciate the work and influence and inspiration of other photographers … I want to grow my social influence with potential clients … I already share works and converse with other photographers … unfortunately, unlike Kelby Inc. … my target clientele are not other photographers … but John Q. Public and the like … my question is how Google+ can further my efforts better than FB currently can? Especially when there have have been several articles lately concerning the drop in activity on Google+ … now that it is opened up, that may trend better …

      My concern is … as with insurance … I don’t want to become social network “poor” … where I am spending so much valuable time posting to all these sites when I could actually be taking pictures …

    2. I don’t completely agree with this. Twitter is a very powerful tool for photographers, but when i miss a tweet containing a link to a photograph, it’s virtually ‘gone’, i can’t see myself digging through old tweets in order to find a photo or photo set that i liked. The power of mediums such as Google+ and Facebook is that photographers can have all their photos grouped in albums or by date.

  4. The one thing I have noticed on all the popular social media sites is that a lot of people don’t like change and when changes happen they now have the opportunity to move somewhere else. I find myself instinctively drawn to Facebook on a daily basis because that’s where my friends and family are, I mostly react to Twitter if I get a notification on my phone and all my Google+ notifications are another 10 people a day I don’t know have added me to a circle because Google+ gave them a list of people to add.
    The thing I do love about Google+ is that it has become my place to go and read about interesting things from interesting people. Its my cleansed area. No self pity, needy posters, no “I’m just going for a coffee”, no “here’s 197 photos of my holiday in Skegness” – just lovely content, great images and the ability to ‘Hangout’ with some very inspiring people. Lets hope it stays that way :)

  5. I tried FaceBook for two weeks but got annoyed really fast… I’m not interested in a personal profile, only a page for my photography. But pages are very limited and I had to keep switching back and forth between my profile and my page…

    Google+ is much better, it has the best of Twitter and the best of FaceBook and combined it into something that actually works. I will keep my Twitter page for short messages, but Google+ will be my main social media platform.

  6. I tried it at the beta stage, and I just avoided the “migration” process, i.e. starting again creating circles, adding friends, etc. so I stopped using it. Just because you are saying so, I will give it a new try.

    Thanks for posting your recommendation.

  7. I don’t have a Facebook account, don’t use twitter, don’t use flickr, and I don’t plan on using G+.
    So far, I’ve found my life incredibly enriched by spending less time in front of my computer. I actually have the time to go outdoors, and mountain bike with real friends. I know they’ll never be as awesome as virtual friends, but it’s working for me, so I’ll keep at it and see how things turn out. Funny enough, I even have some time to spend with my own family instead of always being on the computer updating my status and replying to responses and the updates of others.

    Just thought I’d throw another form of social networking into the mix! :)
    :) :) :)

      1. well played.

        i went away on a trip to africa this year for two weeks, and did a total digital disconnect – no phone, no email, no internet. it was glorious.

  8. You’re right Scott, G+ is great for photographers and for photo teachers and students, so far.

    I think with all the FB changes happening this week, we’re going to see a lot of people running to G+.

    Really though, when you have so much of your business tied up in platforms you don’t control (i.e. Blogger, WordPress.com, FB, G+, YouTube) you need to be mindful that your online assets can disappear or drastically change at any time. That’s the price of these “free” platforms.

    It’s still best to have a home base (your own hosted website for example) that you control 100%, that you can design any way you want and that can have any content you want on it, and that won’t disappear or change unless you decide it should.

  9. I gotta say, I’ve never been crazy about Facebook, but a lot of my family and friends are on there now and I live far away from them all so its nice to keep in touch with them that way. And I can keep up with what my favorite animal rescue groups are doing too.

    But Facebook has always felt like a trap to me…like I was being duped in using it.

    At first I was against the idea of ANOTHER social medium, G+, but after all the positive things I’ve heard said about it, I’m anxious to try it out. Especially if the photo thing is as great as it sounds!

  10. This is another example of the media viewing everything as a horserace. When you don’t understand and don’t know, make it a contest and and you have copy to fill you publication. In sports all they write about is salaries, political writing is vacant of ideas, and business writing is dominated by the number at the closing bell. In a forum like this thee is real content, so it really shows that most media is empty and devoid of content. Anyone for a round of Canon vs Nikon.

  11. It sounds great and I want to give it a try. Does anyone know how to Publish your pictures to Google+ from within Lightroom 3? LR3 is setup for Facebook and Flickr, but I was wondering if there is a download at Adobe Labs to add the ability to Publish to Google+ now.

  12. Google+ is interesting and because of gmail, a fair amount of my family, friends and co-workers are already there. This is why I am so excited for Google+ but the organization tools are just not there for large volumes of images.

    I use Flickr as a backup for the family photo albums with over 6 years of almost continuous history (it sucks as a family photo sharing site). If Google+ just brought over more of the collections, sets and calendar functions that are in Flickr and had an app similar to the new Facebook timeline…I’m there. At least the last time I looked over a month ago, it was only half-baked. They are close….just finish it off already!

    One question; although google clearly states that you retain copyright. What are the license options they give you for sharing your photos when they are public? I assume it is “all rights reserved” but I could just be bringing my flickr perspective back over to the conversation? I did not see it when I looked.

    On that note….I’m off to test it out again. ;-)

  13. Hey Scott, great points on G+, although if you’ve ever been on Livejournal.com, it’s very much like G+ in terms of not having to pretend that you’re paging someone whenever you want to write something.

  14. Great info, Scott. I’m still a newbie on G+, but the guide you linked to will be very helpful. Yeah, you were the first person I added to my circles. 8) 8)

    Have a great weekend! Hope you’re shooting some football this weekend….


  15. The only thing I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate into Google+ is my business name. I developed my business name KRNaturalPhoto when I began using Twitter and Google+ uses my actual name. Is there a way I can have the two become associated on Google+ ?

  16. Totally in the dark as to Google+, so I am not trying to be stupid in what I am saying. I started on facebook as a way to promote my local work and online stores, many of which are POD (print-on-demand) venues.

    I can network with other photographers and artists all day long, but, they are not the ones I need to target to get my work noticed. I also try to do the same on twitter.

    Is Google+ a plus in that area? I really do not need to have myself surrounded with those who are not interested in purchasing my work because they are trying to sell their own.

    Any advice is appreciated!

  17. Providing the EXIF data information of a picture is the most amazing feature of G+ for the photographers. Unlike Twitter’s “Follow” & Face Book “Like” G+ has introduced a new term in social media now known as “Circles”. Thanks for such a useful article on G+.

  18. Good points, Scott. I agree with many of the posters–good article!
    And, I agree…I am slowly but surely starting to use it more and more for photography. It IS photo and photo community friendly , in my opinion.
    The only issue I have is that it is easy to get people into your circles, but not quite so easy getting people to take you into their circles! Takes time, I suppose….

  19. I agree with most of the points you make, except one, which I’ve noticed only recently.
    When you go to your “Photos” tab on Google+, you are shown a lightbox of photos supposedly from your circles. So carefully selecting the people I added to my circles ensured I would get a beautiful stream of photos to watch.
    Unfortunately, this is no longer true; Google+ is now filtering these photos according to some unknown and not discussed or mentioned algorithm, which, in my case, renders it uninteresting, and defeats one of main purposes of this tab (as far as looking at photos from people in my circles).
    I have posted about this here, but have received no feedback from the Google+ team:
    I would appreciate your comments on this!

  20. I got an invite to G+ awhile back but I haven’t’ really made time to play with it. I definitely want to get more into it. I heard they will be releasing a version for businesses soon. That’s what I’m really interested in.

  21. I agree with most of what you write, Scott. The only thing that I am missing badly to make G+ a nearly perfect blog system is that you really could “change” photos. I often share photos I have created with the iPhone 4 and edited with Camera+ and Snapseed on the spot. This is actually so much fun that I rather do that than waiting to edit (like as usual) with Lightroom later.

    The Google+ App unfortunately ONLY uploads a rather small photo. I would loke to be able to exchange the low res version with a higher resolution when I come home. Right now I really don’t know what to do. Share the post again with the better quality pic is not really a solution. What do you think? Will they change that?

  22. Just thought I’d correct Colby Brown’s post since it – like many others – seems to either deliberately distort my position on Google+ TOS or he simply isn’t getting what I wrote – so here goes. I never ever said – nor can anyone link to or point to a place where I did say – that Google will “steal” your photos. I did say that if you license exclusive content – you might not want to post those images on Google+ since in the opinion of my very expensive lawyer, that act would make it impossible to sell an exclusive license to those images at a later date. I am sure Colby is a nice guy – but either his reading comprehension needs improvement or his impersonation of a lawyer is lacking. I have decided to join Google+ but I won’t be posting any images there that I wish to license. Thanks.

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